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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Makes Appeal for Stability in Iraq

APSchroder, Putin and Chirac greeting people on a Baltic Sea beach after meeting Sunday in the town of Svetlogorsk in the Kaliningrad region.
SVETLOGORSK, Kaliningrad Region -- President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called on the world community to work together to bring stability to violence-wracked Iraq, saying after meeting with French and German leaders that past disputes should not prevent future cooperation.

"All of the disagreements on the Iraqi problem must remain in the past," Putin said.

"We should be pooling efforts with the United States and with the countries that are present in Iraq today and that have assumed the function of promoting stability in that country in order to help the Iraqi people assume responsibility for its future," he said.

Like France and Germany, Russia sharply opposed the invasion of Iraq and has expressed concerns about continuing violence and increased attacks on civilians and soldiers that have been blamed largely on Sunni Arab insurgents.

Meeting with Putin near the Baltic Sea port of Kaliningrad were French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, who came at Putin's invitation to mark the 750th anniversary of the exclave's founding.

Earlier the two leaders told Putin that the positive relations between Russia and the EU were vital for world stability and for the prosperity of Kaliningrad, which is cut off from the rest of Russia by EU members Poland and Lithuania.

"The relationship between Russia and the European Union is essential for world equilibrium," Chirac told Putin.

Putin defended Russia's decision last month to reject a proposed treaty with Estonia that would have delineated a final border between the two former Soviet republics. Moscow balked at Estonian lawmakers' proposal to insert a statement about the five-decade Soviet occupation of the Baltic states.

Talks between the three leaders also focused on Iran's nuclear program, North Korea and other issues.

Putin largely enjoys the support of the French and German leaders, though some domestic critics blame the two countries for not confronting him on human rights abuses, such as those committed by Russian forces in the brutal war in Chechnya.

The three leaders were also attending ceremonies commemorating the founding of Kaliningrad, a city that was founded in 1255 by the Teutonic Order of Knights and called Konigsburg until Soviet troops took it over in 1945.

The festivities, which were attended by the leaders of all of Russia's 89 regions, were meant to reassert Russia's commitment to this region, which has been separated geographically from the rest of Russia since the Soviet collapse.

"In its heart, [this city] will always be called Konigsburg, although this absolutely does not concern any territorial claims," Schroder said.

Notable was the absence of the leaders of Poland and Lithuania, whom Putin did not invite -- sparking criticism that he was paying too little attention to Russia's closest neighbors to the west, both former Soviet satellites.

"We are celebrating the 750th anniversary of Kaliningrad/Konigsburg as an internal Russian event," Putin said.