Bush talks to Putin over Iraq arms supply issue

US President Bush has raised the issue of sales of "prohibited" military equipment by Russian firms to Iraq in a conversation on phone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2003 10:10 IST

US President George W Bush has raised the issue of sales by Russian firms of "prohibited" military equipment to Iraq in a conversation on phone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the White House said.

"President Putin assured President Bush that he would look into it," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said on Monday, adding that Washington had raised "such issues with Moscow over the past year."

"President Bush has been concerned and disturbed over the reported supply of equipment," he said.

Earlier, Fleischer said Washington had "credible evidence" that the companies supplied Iraq with "prohibited hardware."

He said, "The firms sold night-vision goggles technology to jam satellite signals that could guide bombs and military aircraft used by the US-led coalition in its war in Iraq."

Meanwhile, Putin's press secretary Alexei Gromov in Moscow said that President Putin reminded Bush in the conversation on Monday that Moscow has previously released information proving that such sales have never occurred, according to the Interfax news agency.

The Russian leader said Washington had failed to provide proof to back its allegations, and that could only damage bilateral relations, Gromov said.

Besides, in the conversation the presidents also discussed the situation involving Iraq, on humanitarian issues. Both reiterated their strong support for the US-Russia partnership, and agreed to continue, despite the differences that the two have over Iraq, Fleischer said.

First Published: Mar 25, 2003 10:10 IST