Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 216

Moscow, in the person of Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, appeared yesterday to be playing a key role in intense diplomatic maneuvering aimed at defusing the crisis in Iraq. Amid indications that Baghdad is seeking an exit from its confrontation with the UN and the U.S., there were reports that Primakov would present a package of proposals to Iraqi leaders. Those proposals would include a resumption of UN weapons inspections, but in a modified form, and a plan to allow more humanitarian goods into Iraq under the existing Iraqi-UN "oil-for-food deal." Speaking about the crisis to reporters in Moscow yesterday, Primakov said that "Russia is active in many different areas, including in its contacts with Baghdad. We will do everything to find an exit to this crisis through the path of a peaceful political settlement."

This latest diplomatic initiative follows statements from the Clinton administration that it would enlist the help of Russia and France, each of which exerts some influence over Baghdad, as well as the moderate Arab states, in its efforts to end the crisis. (Reuter, November 17; The Washington Post, November 18) Primakov is an Arabist with long ties to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and Russia has been among the Security Council members most sympathetic to Iraq’s efforts to end the sanctions imposed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Russian companies are reported to have signed billions of dollars worth of contracts with Iraq, particularly in the energy sector, that can be implemented only after the lifting of sanctions.

Chubais Under Renewed Fire.