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Russia Prepared to Veto Iraq Resolution

Russia is ready to veto a U.S.-British resolution in the U.N. Security Council authorizing use of force against Iraq if such a step is needed to preserve "international stability," Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Friday.

"Russia has the right to a veto in the U.N. Security Council and will use it if it is necessary in the interests of international stability," Ivanov said at a news conference in Beijing.

The foreign minister's comments came a day after China and Russia issued a joint declaration saying war with Iraq "can and should be avoided" and appealing for more time for U.N. weapons inspectors there.

The United States is seeking votes to support a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing war. France and Russia -- both permanent council members with veto power over U.N. activities -- as well as Germany are pushing a plan to continue weapons inspections for four more months.

"Of course, if you use the veto power you should fully understand the responsibilities of it before using it. It can only be used for international peace and stability," Ivanov said. "At the same time Russia will not be in favor of any new resolution which allows the use of military force directly or indirectly to solve the Iraqi issue."