Russia asks U.S. for help in Iraq

Sunday, July 13, 2003

MOSCOW -- The United States should guarantee the safety of Russian diplomats in Iraq and give the Russian mission there full diplomatic recognition, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The ministry statement came after U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow reportedly said Washington does not consider the Russian Embassy in Iraq a diplomatic mission and cannot accept responsibility for the staff's safety.

Vershbow also was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the United States considers it unwise for other countries to set up diplomatic missions in Iraq because there is no Iraqi government at this stage.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said, "This position is far from irreproachable in light of international legal norms and universally recognized diplomatic practices."

The Foreign Ministry statement noted that both nations understand "the need to cooperate closely in the post-conflict settlement in Iraq."

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