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US says Russia faces intelligence questions

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration will ask Russia about a report that Moscow had turned over information on US troop movements and other military plans to Saddam Hussein during the US-led invasion of Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.

''Any implication that there were those from a foreign government who may have been passing information to the Iraqis prior to the invasion would be, of course, very worrying," Rice said on CNN's ''Late Edition."

''I would think the Russians would want to take that very seriously as well," she said.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said that if the report is found to be true, the administration should reassess its relationship with Russia and should reconsider President Bush's participation in a summit meeting of the world's economic powers in July in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Rice declined to speculate on whether Russia's actions, as detailed in a Pentagon report based on captured Iraqi documents, resulted in casualties among US troops or what President Vladimir V. Putin might have known about possible Russian involvement.

''We will certainly raise it with the Russian government. We want to take a real hard look at the documents and then raise it with the Russian government," Rice said on NBC's ''Meet the Press."

The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service has dismissed the allegation that Moscow provided information to Hussein.

''I think we need an entirely new assessment of our relationships with Russia, should this be true," Kennedy said on CBS's ''Face the Nation."

He questioned whether Bush should attend the Group of Eight meeting in the summer

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said ''anything is possible in the area of intelligence." He said that if the report proved to be true, ''it would be obviously plenty discouraging . . . and that the United States should find ways to let the Russians know ''that kind of conduct is not going to be acceptable to us."

A Pentagon report, released last week, said two captured Iraqi documents indicated Russia had received information from sources ''inside the American Central Command" in Qatar. Russia passed battlefield intelligence to Hussein through the former Russian ambassador in Baghdad, Vladimir Titorenko, the Pentagon report said.

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