Russia Critizes US Over Iraq Transition Plan

Russia Critizes US Over Iraq Transition Plan

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia criticized the United States on Wednesday for not consulting other countries before making plans to set up a transitional government in Iraq in June -- plans Washington wants endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.
Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov as accusing the United States of breaking a pledge to allow "maximum transparency" and take into account the opinions of Security Council members, Iraq's neighbors and other nations.
The transition agreement between Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council and U.S. administrator Paul Bremer "was signed privately and practically without considering the point of view of the international community or neighboring countries or the U.N. Security Council," he was quoted as saying.
"In our view, if effort is to be made to settle the problem of Iraq, it should be done collectively. Only this approach can give the settlement process the necessary legitimacy both in internal terms and from the point of view of international law."
The Governing Council announced on Saturday that a new transitional government was to take over at the end of June 2004.
The Council is due to present a timetable for a transition to sovereignty to the United Nations on December 15 and Washington wants the 15-member U.N. Security Council to endorse it in a resolution, hopefully before the year's end.
"Why did they choose the date of June 30? What was their motive?" asked Fedotov. "It is not quite clear. The whole process of discussing and preparing this agreement was, let's say, in a closed regime without consultations."
Russia, a staunch opponent of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, has veto power on the U.N. Security Council along with the United States, Britain, France and China.
Russia, along with France and Germany, spearheaded opposition to the U.S. plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein, insisting U.N. inspectors should be allowed more time to check whether the Iraqi president had developed banned weapons.
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