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Russian Parliament Tables War Resolution
April 4, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's lower house of parliament on Friday put off debate of a resolution harshly criticizing the U.S.-led war in Iraq, reflecting the new, softer position being advanced by President Vladimir Putin.

The draft resolution called for an immediate end to the war and said ``the declared causes are hardly good grounds for continuing the destructive actions of the anti-Iraqi coalition.''

````The coalition members have been ... deceived in their expectation of a joyous welcome by the Iraqi population,'' the draft said.

Konstantin Kosachev, the deputy chairman of the chamber's international affairs committee, said Friday that it was decided to postpone the discussion because ``we have received a lot of amendments, remarks and proposals in the process of our work on the draft.''

He did not give more details, but the past several days have seen a marked change of tone from Putin, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and other officials. While he has continued to stress Moscow's fundamental opposition to the war, Putin said Wednesday that a U.S. defeat in Iraq would not be in Russia's interest for both political and economic reasons. On Thursday he elaborated on that theme.

``In the political sense, the United States and Russia are the biggest nuclear powers in the world, and a special responsibility for the protection of international peace rests upon us,'' Putin told reporters. ``In solving any problems - including those of a global character, and crisis situations - we have always cooperated, are cooperating and will cooperate with the United States.''

Some analysts say the change in tone reflects Russia's hope of winning a role in Iraq's postwar reconstruction, as well as preserving its existing economic ties with the United States.

Legislators reacted cautiously to the U.S. House of Representatives' decision Thursday to prohibit U.S. funding for French, German, Syrian or Russian companies pursuing postwar reconstruction projects in Iraq.

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