Russia: Iraq Resolution Making Progress

The U.N. Security Council's five permanent members are moving significantly closer in their positions on an Iraq resolution, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Friday.

Ivanov's comments followed a senior U.S. official's statement Thursday that the resolution would be delayed as Washington revised its draft to reflect the views of Russia and France without altering the tough provisions demanded by the United States and Britain.

Russia, France and China oppose the U.S. proposal that demands Iraq rid itself of weapons of mass destruction or face dire consequences, which are believed by the three nations to include U.S. military action. They want to ensure that Iraq is given a chance to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors before any military action is authorized.

Britain backs the U.S. proposal.

Ivanov told reporters Friday that Russia continued to insist that the draft resolution give no one the right to use force.

Moscow "firmly opposes any formulation that would allow anyone unilaterally to automatically proceed to the use of force," he said.

However, Ivanov said that "in the last few days we have succeeded in bringing the approaches of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council ... closer."

"We have converged on a whole series of positions," he said, without offering any examples of compromise.

"We insist that in case problems come up with the inspectors' activity and Iraq violates the U.N. Security Council's decisions, this question be returned to the Security Council and be carefully examined there, in order to decide on how to proceed further," Ivanov said.

The United States said Thursday it was working on "a tweaked version" of its resolution. As permanent council members, each of the five nations has veto power over resolutions.

The Security Council received the U.S. draft on Oct. 23 and the members have spent three sessions since then reviewing it line by line and suggesting changes.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said contacts between key capitals are continuing but no council meeting has been scheduled on Iraq, and the issue likely will be taken up again next week.