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Russia To Press US On Its Mideast Military Buildup January 28, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News, World News.
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MOSCOW (AP)–Russia will press the U.S. to explain its military buildup in the Middle East at a meeting of international mediators next month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted as saying Saturday by news agencies.

“I have not seen any changes in Washington’s rather aggressive rhetoric,” he said, according to the state news agencies RIA-Novosti and ITAR-Tass. “It continues, as does the buildup of (its) military presence in the region.”

Russia’s top diplomat added that he would raise the issue when the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace brokers – the U.S., the E.U., Russia and the U.N. – meet in Washington on Feb. 2 to explore ways of reinvigorating peacemaking.

“This will be one of the questions that we want to clarify in Washington, what lies behind it,” said Lavrov.

Russia was a fierce critic of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Russian foreign minister also said that Iran and Syria – both countries viewed with deep hostility by the U.S. – should be included in any regional peace initiatives.

“It is my deep conviction that Iran and Syria should not be isolated and must be involved in the settlement process,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfax.

He warned, too, that any unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran would be counterproductive and would harm efforts to persuade Tehran to accept curbs on its nuclear weapons program. Russia backed limited U.N. sanctions against Iran in December.

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