Ivanov, speaking on Thursday in Cairo after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said a UN resolution was the most likely way of internationalising the force in Iraq, where US occupation soldiers face daily resistance attacks and plummeting morale.

A number of countries, including India, Germany and France, have indicated they will not send troops to Iraq without a specific UN mandate.

Washington insists that existing UN resolutions give foreign governments sufficient basis to join forces in war-torn Iraq. 

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Wednesday that he had discussed internalising the force in Iraq with US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“All of us should accept responsibility to stabilise Iraq,” said Annan after closed-door consultations at the Security Council.

Moscow's opposition

Ivanov (R) said Russia still opposes
the war

Ivanov said the increasing resistance attacks faced by American and British troops in Iraq vindicated Moscow’s continued opposition to the war.

“Russia has not changed its position on the war against Iraq, which it considered a mistake from the outset and events have proven the Russian view,” he said.

Ivanov also expressed reservations about the pace of the transition to self-rule in Iraq after the US-led invasion on 20 March.

The Russian Foreign Minister called for the swift formation “of a legitimate authority, elected by the Iraqi people”.

But the US occupying administration in Iraq has made it clear that it does not see handing over the reins of power to an Iraqi sovereign elected government for at least one year.