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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Lauds Russia Stance on Strikes

Iraqi deputy foreign minister Riyad Qeisi in Moscow on Tuesday praised Russia's position on the U.S. latest strikes against Iraq and on the no-fly zones.

"Russia made it quite clear at the UN Security Council that it does not approve of no-fly zones and has never supported that concept," he said. Qeisi did not specify what Russian statements in the United Nations he meant.

According to Russian deputy foreign minister Viktor Posuvalyuk, Russian officials at the meeting with Qeisi emphasized the need to "show restraint and prevent another deterioration of the situation," Interfax reported.

Vladimir Titorenko, deputy head of the Russian mission, said Sunday that Moscow did not recognize no-fly zones and that Iraq had the right to down foreign warplanes over them.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry later distanced itself from Titorenko's remarks. Itar-Tass quoted a senior Foreign Ministry official as saying Monday that the authenticity of the statement was being checked.

Interfax quoted Posuvalyuk as saying Russia had made clear to Qeisi that Iraq should not undertake any actions that could increase tension with the United States.

Iraq said after the U.S. strikes it did not recognize the no-fly zones and would shoot down any foreign warplane flying over it. It later backed down on the threat, saying that it would not shoot at U.S. planes.

"It is important to exercise restraint, not to allow a further deterioration of tension," Interfax quoted Posuvalyuk as saying. "We assured the Iraqi envoy that we talk about this with other parties involved, including the United States."

Posuvalyuk said Moscow also told Qeisi that Iraqi troops should not be concentrated near Kuwait's borders. "We have drawn Qeisi's attention to the fact that it is important not to irritate neighbors now," he said.

Qeisi said he planned to go to Paris to try to convince France that the no-fly zones imposed over his country were unjust.

"I am flying to Paris tomorrow and I will have talks in the Quai d'Orsay [French foreign ministry]," Qeisi told a news conference after meeting Posuvalyuk.

In Paris, French foreign ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt said he was "not aware" of the proposed visit.

Qeisi said he wanted to put forward Baghdad's views on the ban on flights by Iraqi warplanes over southern and northern parts of the country that was imposed by the United States, Britain and France in 1991 after Baghdad's invasion of Kuwait.

The United States, which launched air strikes against Iraq last month in retaliation for Baghdad's operation against separatist Kurds in the north, has also extended the southern sector of the no-fly zone.

"They [the French] do not have to stick to solidarity over no-fly zones just because they decided to impose them in 1991," Qeisi said.

"The French are known in the Arab world ... to be very particular about the issues of legality and legitimacy. This will certainly be a subject for discussion."