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President Bush and President Putin Discussed Possible War On Iraq - 2003-01-23


Russia, France, China, and Germany have all repeated their opposition to a war in Iraq at this time. White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer says President Bush and President Putin discussed what he called "Russian-American cooperation on Iraq."

Kremlin officials say President Putin told Mr. Bush that a UN report due next week should be the key to a decision on future action in Iraq. Weapons inspectors are expected to use that report to ask for more time to carry out their work.

Mr. Fleischer says both leaders agree, the release of the report is an "important date." He downplayed opposition from some U.S allies, saying Mr. Bush will have broad support, if he decides to go to war.

Mr. Fleischer said, "The president again is confident that he will make his case to allies and friends, including President Putin. He respects what their opinions are, and will continue to work consultatively and closely with them."

Russia's foreign minister Thursday said, at the moment, there are no grounds to use force against Iraq. Russia wants a second UN resolution authorizing the use of force, if Iraq does not cooperate with weapons inspectors.

Mr. Fleischer says it is premature to judge whether Washington will ask for a second resolution.

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