Russia says Saddam's fate must be decided by Iraqis

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said Monday that only the Iraqi people can decide the fate of their former leader Saddam Hussein.

"The analysis of the previous regime and the trial of its leader is the internal affair of the Iraqi people, and only the Iraqi people can decide the fate of their former leaders," Fedotov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

"For this reason, it is necessary that Iraq's sovereignty is restored and that self-sufficient and sovereign Iraqi state institutions resume work," he added.

"We hope that all this (Saddam's capture) will lead to the stabilization of the situation in the country," he said.

However, Saddam's arrest carries only "a symbolic meaning," he said. "We need to wait and see how this actually affects the situation in Iraq itself."

Russia strongly opposed the United States-led war against Iraq, but has since stepped up cooperation with Washington while repeatedly calling for a greater United Nations role in rebuilding Iraq.

Washington has excluded Russian companies from bidding for reconstruction contracts worth 18.6 billion US dollars in Iraq.



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