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UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Russia said Friday it strongly opposes any U.N. resolution endorsing an investigation into allegations of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq.
The United Nations confirmed Friday that former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker was prepared to serve on a panel investigating the corruption allegations and said "a Security Council resolution would be extremely helpful for the work of the inquiry."
But Russia's deputy U.N. Ambassador Gennady Gatilov said the Security Council's recent pledge to cooperate with the inquiry was sufficient and no resolution was needed.
Diplomats said Volcker was insisting on a resolution, apparently because the investigation will include the U.N. Secretariat, which the secretary-general heads, as well as dealings with governments and companies. Volcker's office declined to comment.
Russian companies will undoubtedly come under scrutiny in any investigation because they were major buyers of Iraqi oil and suppliers of humanitarian goods to the program, which allowed Saddam Hussein's regime to sell oil and use the money to buy humanitarian goods and pay reparations to victims of the 1991 Gulf War.
Under the program, which began in December 1996 and ended in November, Saddam's government decided on the goods it wanted, who should provide them and who could buy Iraqi oil - but a U.N. committee monitored the contracts.
The corruption allegations first surfaced in January in the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada. It included a list of about 270 former government officials, activists and journalists from more than 46 countries suspected of profiting from Iraqi oil sales.
Gatilov said Russia doesn't want "to look backwards into the history, and to stir up the old issue of the humanitarian program, which is closed." He declined to say whether Russia would use its veto to block a resolution.
"We don't mind for the secretary-general to appoint the commission but we don't see the need to support his decision in the form of a resolution," he told The Associated Press.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched an internal inquiry into the allegations in February but canceled it in March to allow an independent examination.