Bush, Putin Renew Commitment to Countering Terrorism
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2005 President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed today to increase their cooperation in fighting terrorism, accelerating efforts to combat nuclear terrorism and cracking down on proliferation.
The leaders outlined results of what Bush called "an open and constructive dialog" at Bratislava Castle in Slovakia during a joint news conference that culminated the president's five-day swing through three European countries.
Putin quickly put to rest concerns about what some pundits had predicted could hamper the summit: Russia's commitment to democracy. "Russia has made its choice in favor of democracy," the Putin told reporters. "It is our final choice and there can be no return to what we used to have before."
In addition to a common commitment to democracy, Bush told reporters he and Putin share a commitment to preventing terrorism and proliferation that threatens the two countries. Both the United States and Russia have experienced terrorist attacks against their people on their own soil something Bush said "I hope we never have to share again" and recognize steps are needed to prevent future attacks, Bush told reporters.
Putin "clearly understands the stakes we face," the president said.
As a result, the leaders agreed to several measures to counter terrorism and promote security, including:
- enhancing security requirements at U.S. and Russian nuclear facilities to counter evolving terrorist threats and to work with allies to help promote security at their nuclear facilities;
- halting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;
- identifying terrorist cells and disrupting their recruiting and financing networks;
- stemming the illicit trade in man- portable air defense systems capable of shooting down commercial airlines;
- developing new measures to counter improvised explosive devices; and
- boosting the two countries' response capabilities in the event of a nuclear/radiological incident.
Bush and Putin also agreed that neither Iran nor North Korea should be permitted to possess nuclear weapons, and agreed to work closely through the stalled six-party talks aimed at peacefully resolving the issue.
They also promised to continue working together to promote the Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East. The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations were part of the "quartet" that designed the roadmap to promote peace between Israel and Palestine in 2003.
Bush acknowledged that the United States and Russia have not always agreed on all issues, including the U.S. involvement in Iraq.
But despite disagreements the two countries may have had in the past, "we have found a lot of agreement and a lot of common ground," the president said. And by continuing to work together and pursue this common ground, he said, "this world will be a safer, freer and more prosperous place."