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April 12, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
European Leaders Push for Key U.N. Role
Leaders of Russia, France, Germany Push for Key U.N. Role in Iraq, Soften Criticism of U.S.

The Associated Press


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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia April 12

Russia, France and Germany outspoken opponents of the war in Iraq pushed Saturday for the United Nations to play the key role in rebuilding that country, but toned down their criticism of the United States.

French President Jacques Chirac voiced hope that fractured ties with Washington would be mended.

President Vladimir Putin hosted Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at a hastily arranged summit dominated by the Iraq issue in Russia's former imperial capital, St. Petersburg. On Saturday, the three leaders wrapped up their two-day gathering by opening a seminar on security and international law.

"The United Nations should play a central role in ensuring that Iraq regains its sovereignty and that the Iraqi people recover their dignity and their freedom," Chirac said at the start of the seminar. He added that a leading U.N. role in Iraq would help "allay the popular feelings of frustration in the region."

Schroeder said that "the legitimacy of the restoration of the state and economic structures can be ensured only through international law."

Chirac, Schroeder and Putin led diplomatic opposition to the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq, and the issue badly strained their nations' relations with the United States.

"We can rebuild our unity around the values that all great democracies share. This spirit of solidarity and collective responsibility should emerge strengthened from this crisis," Chirac said.

Putin said the crisis highlighted the need for modernization of the United Nations and the entire system of international law.

"If we had effective mechanisms for solving crisis situations, we would be able to more effectively solve the most acute global problems, and, what's especially important, do so without acting beyond the law," Putin said.

Schroeder's visit to St. Petersburg had been planned long ago, but the summit was hastily transformed into a three-way affair following a meeting earlier this week between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Bush and Blair said the United Nations should play a "vital" role in rebuilding Iraq but didn't define it. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told a Senate panel Thursday that the United Nations "can't be in charge."

Putin responded positively Friday to Wolfowitz's suggestion that Russia, France and Germany forgive Iraq's debt. Schroeder said the debt issue could only be discussed within the Paris Club of creditor nations after Iraq forms a legitimate government.

Meanwhile in Washington, the financial leaders of the seven richest industrialized countries agreed Saturday to support a new U.N. Security Council resolution as part of a global effort to rebuild Iraq.

"We recognize the need for a multilateral effort to help Iraq," said the finance ministers and central bank presidents from the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.


photo credit and caption:
Russian President Vladimir Putin applauds, center, while French President Jacques Chirac, left, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder listen to a translation at a conference on international security in St. Petersburg, Saturday, April 12, 2003. The leaders of Russia, France and Germany called for the United Nations to play a central role in rebuilding Iraq. (AP Photo/ ITAR-TASS, Presidential Press Service)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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