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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia, U.S. Near Deal on Iraqi Sanctions

Russia signaled Tuesday it would likely work out a deal with Washington to extend the UN oil-for-food program for Iraq.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze said Moscow and Washington would by the end of the week negotiate a new draft of the UN Security Council resolution extending the program, Interfax reported.

The current phase of the program, which allows Iraq to sell oil as long as it uses the proceeds for humanitarian relief, expires Friday.

Ordzhonikidze said he expected agreement to be reached with the United States "based on a compromise."

The United States and Britain have been blocked by fellow Security Council member Russia from pushing through proposals for "smart sanctions" against Iraq that would ease the flow of civilian goods to Iraq but tighten military supplies.

Ordzhonikidze gave no further details and made no reference to the smart sanctions issue.

The oil-for-food program was launched in 1996 to help Iraq's 22 million people cope with UN sanctions imposed in 1990 when Iraqi forces took over Kuwait.

From a Russian standpoint, the UN wrangle over sanctions has been complicated by U.S. President George W. Bush making an explicit link of Iraq to the war on terrorism.

President Vladimir Putin has backed the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks. But Moscow has a strong commercial interest in maintaining good relations with Baghdad. Putin could be embarrassed if Bush extends his anti-terrorism campaign to Iraq.

Also Tuesday, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said global operations to rout out terrorism were only in their first phase, but Russia did not support military action against Iraq.

"We are very, very far from victory," Ivanov was quoted by Interfax as telling reporters. "Counterterrorist operations are in a first, starting phase and no more than that. The civilized world has not yet touched other countries where nests of terrorism are being made."

It was not clear to which countries Ivanov was referring. But Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov made clear in an interview with Interfax that Russia's opposition to military action against Iraq was well known.

It was the first time any Russian figure of Ivanov's rank had even obliquely suggested the U.S.-led fight against terrorism, wholly supported by Russia, might be directed against countries other than Afghanistan.

Bush demanded on Monday that Baghdad allow international weapons inspections to resume in Iraq, saying the global war on terrorism also targeted those who produced weapons of mass destruction "to terrorize the world."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the sanctions by telephone Monday with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and a Powell spokesman said later that Washington was still trying to get agreement "that would bring Russia into alignment" with the other permanent members of the Security Council.

Russia ultimately wants all sanctions against Baghdad to be lifted. Kommersant daily reported Tuesday that an Iraqi delegation had recently visited Moscow to secure support for lifting the sanctions. It quoted a member of the Iraqi team as saying such a move could be worth $5 billion to Russian companies.