The position of Russia, Germany and France on the Iraq problem had not thoroughly changed, Mr Putin said as he summarised the talks. The problem must be settled with the United Nations playing the key role.
The French, German and Russian leaders’ talks did not mean to split the international community, but rather hoped to find universally acceptable solutions of the Iraqi issue. The Russian and French Presidents and the German Federal Chancellor came to St Petersburg not to criticise the occupation forces, but according to the Geneva Convention, the alliance was responsible for settling humanitarian problems, Mr Putin stressed.
The rebuilding of Iraq, its transition to peaceful life and the settlement of humanitarian problems were top priorities, he said.
International inspectors must return to Iraq. If weapons of mass destruction were found there, the finds would not be recognised as legitimate in the absence of inspectors. Besides, nothing had been found yet, Mr Putin remarked.
Russia was willing to consider prospects for writing off Iraqi debts, but only at the negotiation table. As Mr Putin pointed out, Russia ranked third in the world after France and Japan for writing off the debts of the poorest countries and led the world for writing off such debts in proportion to its own gross domestic product.
Mr Putin stressed that the Iraqi nation itself must determine the fate of its country. There were well-tested means for that. The President cited the example of Afghanistan, where an international conference had been held under the UN aegis, after which an interim administration was appointed, which organised the elections.
However, the administration of the occupation forces must first of all settle humanitarian problems, he said with assurance.
Only one goal could justify the war in Iraq—its disarmament. However, weapons of mass destruction had not been found, so the question arose of what goals the coalition was pursuing.
Mr Putin, Mr Chirac and Mr Schroeder also discussed the situation in North Korea and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.