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Parlamentskaya Gazeta, January 29, 2003, EV

Speaker of the Federation Council Sergei Mironov met yesterday with Abdelwahid Belkeziz, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Mironov and Belkeziz discussed a broad range of current international issues, including the settlement of the Middle Eastern conflicts and the situation in Iraq. Belkeziz said that the OIC’s position regarding Iraq does not have any principal differences from the position of the Russian Federation – the right to make a decision about Iraq belongs to the UN Security Council alone. Mironov noted that there are no grounds which would permit the US and some of its allies to launch a military operation unilaterally. Baghdad is prepared to cooperate with the UN.

NEWS FROM THE PACE

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, January 29, 2003, EV

Mikhail Margelov, chair of the international committee of the Federation Council, has been elected as a deputy speaker of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which is holding its winter session in Strasbourg.

He was nominated by Russia’s parliamentary delegation. Other members of the forum did not object. Margelov said that his efforts will be aimed at solving the Iraqi problem.

The majority of delegates at the winter session say that the PACE must make every effort to resolve all problems using peaceful methods. By the way, Margelov has already submitted an application to hold debates on Iraq. This issue has been added to the agenda of the PACE as an urgent debate.

Margelov said in Strasbourg that US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, has not managed to convince Europe to participate in a “crusade” against Baghdad. The Russian senator said: “Any attempts to take unilateral action would be strategically short-sighted.” This opinion coincides with decisions made at the summit of foreign ministers of the European Union.

BLUE STREAM TO BE LAUNCHED ON FEBRUARY 3

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 29, 2003, EV

Commercial fuel deliveries to Turkey via the Blue Stream pipeline will begin on February 3, when the pipeline will officially be opened. A trial delivery via Blue Stream was carried out on December 28-30, 2002. Russia will supply 6.5 million cubic meters of gas via the pipeline to Turkey in 2003. In 2007, when the pipeline reaches its estimated capacity, gas deliveries will amount to 16 billion cubic meters a year. Gazprom reports that construction of electric power plants in the Samsun province, which will use Russian gas, is almost complete.

MOLDAVIA SEEKS TO JOIN THE RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 29, 2003, EV

Moldavia is considering the prospect of joining the Russia-Belarus Union. This statement was made by Vadim Mishin, Moldavian Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, in Chishinau yesterday. He explained that as soon as the parliamentary assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union passes a constitutional act of the Union state Moldavia will consider it and make concrete moves in this direction.

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