TBILISI, Georgia (Reuters) – Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday there are still unanswered questions about Russian military equipment that U.S. officials believe made its way to Iraq before last year’s U.S. invasion.
U.S. officials last year said they believed private Russian firms sold Iraq antitank missiles, night-vision goggles and electronic jamming systems and that private sector technicians went to Baghdad to train Iraqis to use the jamming equipment.
“There are still some outstanding questions in my mind,” Powell told a news conference in Tbilisi, where he was attending the inauguration of Mikhail Saakashvili as Georgia’s new president before flying to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
U.S. officials from President Bush on down have complained to Russia about the equipment sales, which Washington feared could have endangered U.S. forces who toppled former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Powell said he had raised the issue before with Ivanov but did not say whether it would come up in their talks Monday.
“He (Ivanov) has provided answers to some of the questions with respect to what equipment might have gone in or not gone in (but I cannot) say that every question that is in our inventory of questions has been completely answered,” Powell said. “It’s an area of continuing discussion that I have with Ivanov.”