Russia warns Aziz death sentence will hurt Iraq

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The death sentence against Iraq's former deputy premier Tareq Aziz will only deepen the country's domestic problems, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Thursday.

"The condemnation of Tareq Aziz will aggravate the domestic situation in Iraq and will not favour national harmony," Lavrov said during a joint press conference in Warsaw with his Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski.

On Wednesday, Russian joined a chorus of international calls for clemency for Aziz, a former aid to Saddam Hussein and the long-term international face of his regime.

The United Nations, the Vatican and the European Union have also voiced opposition to the death penalty handed down by Iraq's supreme criminal court after finding Aziz guilty of "deliberate murder and crimes against humanity."

Lavrov's visit here comes ahead of a December 6 trip to Poland by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in which at least three bilateral agreements will be signed, Sikorski said.

© 2010 AFP

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