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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Press Conference by Russian Ambassador to U.N.

Aired January 29, 2003 - 11:22   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we go to the United Nations. This is the Russian ambassador to the U.N., Sergei Lavarov. Let's listen in to him.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

QUESTION: ... Did the president made a compelling case last night in the State of the Union, do you think?

SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN AMB. TO U.N.: Well, we have heard the accusations based on the paper which the United States circulated last December based on the questions which still remain unanswered from UNSCOM times and which were repeated by UNMOVIC, and these questions are well-known.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) ... President Bush to go to war?

LAVROV: Well, we have not seen any reason so far to undercut the inspection process. The inspections are useful, they are efficient and effective, and they should certainly continue.

QUESTION: How does Russia view Iraqi request for grounding of attack airplanes, American and British, for the U-2 to fly?

LAVROV: What was the request again?

QUESTION: Well, the Iraqis are requesting that attack planes, American attack planes patrolling the no-fly zones be grounded while the U-2 can fly, the reconnaissance flights can be done.

LAVROV: Well, these are two different things. I believe no-fly zones were unilaterally declared in violation of Security Council resolutions. And this is the Russian position, vis-a-vis no-fly zones, like the position of overwhelming majority of the United Nations Security Council members.

And the use of aerial surveillance by inspectors is something different. U-2 plane was used by UNSCOM. There was no problem with this plane being used. It, we believe, should be used by UNMOVIC and by IAEA, as well. Russia, for its part, offered UNMOVIC a Russian plane for the same purposes, which has different characteristics and which can be usefully employed by UNMOVIC. And we expect UNMOVIC to give us a response to this.

QUESTION: What evidence would Colin Powell have to present to convince you that war is warranted?

LAVROV: Convincing.

QUESTION: How convincing, what exactly?

LAVROV: You know -- are you seriously asking me this question? I have...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LAVROV: We would like to see undeniable proof. OK?

QUESTION: Ambassador, President Putin said yesterday that Russia might change its position. Are you taking any action to encourage...

LAVROV: He did not say this.

(CROSSTALK)

LAVROV: You reported this. He did not say this. You reported that he was apparently ready to change his position, which is wrong.

He said that we believe that inspections must continue. And that if Iraq stops cooperating with inspectors and starts blocking the inspectors, then certainly the Security Council would have to look into it.

We have been saying this all along, that we are not in favor of inspections in spite of Iraqis cooperation. But as long as Iraq cooperates, they must continue. So there is no change in Russian position.

Thank you very much.

KAGAN: And we've been listening in there to the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Sergei Lavarov. The ambassadors today having a chance to talk to the weapons inspectors, ask them specific questions about the inspections taking place right now in Iraq.

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