Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday denied that Moscow’s exclusion from an international group observing the cease-fire in Lebanon represented a defeat for Russian diplomacy. At the same time the ministry continued to criticize the West for relegating it to the sidelines. An April 29 ministry statement declared that Moscow regards its exclusion from the observation group "a blatant failure to recognize fully the efforts made by this country and its status as a cosponsor of the Middle East peace process." An unnamed senior Foreign Ministry official said yesterday that Washington’s original cease-fire proposals had no chance of success and that the final document "was drafted with Russia taking a most active part." He also said that Moscow would attempt to maximize its influence through participation in a consultative group overseeing the rebuilding of Lebanon. He suggested that Russia would interpret "rebuilding" to include the restoration of Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, Interfax, April 30)
The Russian Foreign Ministry also indicated yesterday that it hoped to use upcoming talks in Moscow with South Korea to reassert Russian influence on the troubled Korean peninsula. As with the Middle East, Russia will continue to push for the convening of an international conference on the Koreas, of which it would be a participant. (Itar-Tass, April 30) Russia was excluded from a recent U.S.-South Korean proposal for quadripartite peace talks, and has also been largely frozen out of an international project to supply the North with light-water nuclear reactors.
May Day Holiday Marked.