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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zhirinovsky Champions Iraqi Cause

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Russia's ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Iraqi President Saddam Hussein Sunday he supported the lifting of seven-year sanctions on Baghdad, the official Iraqi News Agency said.

INA said Zhirinovsky, who has called on Russia to ignore the international embargo slapped on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, told Saddam during a meeting about his Liberal Democratic Party's efforts to scrap the sanctions.

"We condemn the policy of the United States and support the Iraqi people, and our friend is Saddam Hussein," hesaid through an interpreter.

Zhirinovsky, describing Saddam as a "dear friend," told reporters earlier his visit was to express solidarity with Baghdad in its standoff with the United States over UN weapons inspections.

The Iraqi-U.S. dispute over Iraq's disarmament erupted on Oct. 29 when Baghdad announced it would expel American members of the United Nations weapons inspections teams.

Russia brokered a deal with Iraq on Nov. 21 under which Baghdad revoked its ban on American members of the inspection teams, and in return Moscow promised to work seriously towards lifting the sanctions.

During the row, the United States massed troops in the Gulf, sending an aircraft carrier and extra warplanes.

"All anti-American forces should unite and stand against this aggression," Zhirinovsky said. "Americans should be tried by an international tribunal."

INA said Saddam thanked Zhirinovsky, making his third visit to Iraq in three years, for his efforts to strengthen relations between the two countries.