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U.S., Russia Share Strategic Goals, Partners Against Terror

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2002 – The United States and Russia are partners in the war against terrorism and both share the strategic goal of seeing Iraq disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday.

Speaking at the U.S.-Russia Business Council's annual meeting, Powell highlighted the strategic partnership that President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have established and that they plan to deepen in the years ahead. "Russia is becoming a full participant in the international system," Powell said.

"Today, across the globe, Russia and the United States are working together on issues of shared concern, rather than vying for spheres of influence," he said. "The global chessboard of the Cold War, with red pieces for Soviet communism and white pieces for the Free World has been overturned once and for all."

Recalling that as a U.S. soldier he'd spent most of his adult life preparing for war with the Soviets, Powell said he still finds himself "astonished at the reality of this new situation." As a second lieutenant all the way to serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was concerned with the Fulda Gap, the most likely point of a Soviet attack on the East-West German border.

"I was kidding with someone the other day," Powell noted, "and I said, 'You know what the Fulda Gap is, don't you? It's a store that sells Levi's somewhere near the town of Fulda.'"

The United States and Russia are now cooperating to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan, to consolidate peace in the Balkans and to end violence in the Middle East. Powell said he talks about these and other issues almost daily with Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

"We want to make sure that we are inside one another's pocket in the decision process," the secretary said. "We share the strategic goal of an Iraq disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction, and we are working together to achieve it."

The United States and Russia are partners in the war against terrorism. Counterterrorism cooperation is now a key element of the relationship, and Russia has made invaluable contributions to the global anti-terror coalition. This includes military assistance, overflight clearance, search and rescue assistance, intelligence sharing and law enforcement cooperation.

Powell said he'll never forget Putin's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "He came out, and he stood with us against a common enemy," the secretary said. "He responded to President Bush's call for all of us to unite against terrorism."

U.S. relations have gone from being based on a balance of fear, Powell said, to one based on mutual interests. When the United States pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty last December, he noted, there "was no crisis in U.S.-Russia relations, no new arms race began."

Powell recalled that even though Putin disagreed with the U.S. decision, the Russian president did not let it change the relationship between the two countries because they had important work to do. Six months later, both sides signed the Treaty of Moscow, a historic strategic arms-reduction treaty to slash strategic offensive weapons arsenals over the next 10 years, and a declaration redefining the U.S.- Russian agenda emphasizing cooperation and joint action to meet 21st century challenges.

A few days later in Rome, the United States joined the North Atlantic Alliance in forming the NATO-Russia Council to foster Russia's full integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. Heading into NATO's Prague summit scheduled for November, Powell said, there is "a great deal more calm atmosphere than would have been expected."

"Russia's new partnership with NATO and the admission of new members," he said, "will strengthen the alliance's ability to meet new security threats."

Even though ties between the United States and Russia are now focused on cooperation and partnership, Powell noted, there are still areas of serious disagreement. U.S. officials are concerned about Russian nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology that is still finding its way to Iran. U.S. officials are also concerned about Chechnya and terrorist activities in the Republic of Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.

"These disagreements, however," Powell said, "should not cause us to lose sight of the dramatic changes that have occurred in our relationship on the security front."

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