The press conference of Vladimir Putin and George Bush that took place this Tuesday left many questions without an answer. It is not clear yet whether or not a hitch in Russian-American relations is possible. Among the discussed issues were the ABM treaty, the fight against international terrorism, the situation in the Balkans and in the Middle East, the future of Afghanistan, and the issue of Iraq. The list of the issues is impressive, so it would be completely impossible to comment all the subjects in the framework of the press conference.
The presidents worked out unified approaches in the fight against international terrorism. While negotiating, both George Bush and Vladimir Putin spoke about new menaces that have appeared in the world; one of them is international terrorism. According to Vladimir Putin, no state or nation is safe from terrorism. The Russian president stressed that Russia was one of the first countries that stood up to the impact of today’s terrorism. According to the Russian president, in the face of common danger, the main formula of Russian-American relations should be “cosponsorship in regional questions." Today, a new level of cooperation must be determined, which will allow for decisions to made in common and to guarantee security in European continent. As for relations between Russia and NATO, Vladimir Putin suggests that the Russian side is ready cooperate with it.
The Russian position on ABM and NMD has remained the same, though both sides have decided to continue consultations on this subject. The day before, the US president announced that the US was ready to seriously reduce its nuclear military reserve even if Russia did not agree to disarmament according to the principle “warhead for a warhead." The general number of warheads that Washington is ready to reduce could reach 2,200. At the press conference, George Bush confirmed this, though he did mention any exact figures. Vladimir Putin at once answered to the president: “Russia is ready to reduce its SOA by three times, to the minimal level that is necessary to keep strategic stability. Russia and the US should no longer frighten each other to agree." Therefore, a conclusion could be made that Moscow agreed with Washington’s proposition about mutual reduction according to the principle “warhead for warhead." However, we should not forget that the United States possess much more nuclear warheads, a the final equality cannot be reached.
A unified position was reached on the subject of Afghanistan: a coalition government consisting of all ethnic groups living on the Afghan territory and a 2-year protectorate of UN. Everything appears to be good, though there is a small thing lacking, a figure that can unify the split in Afghan society. Americans suppose that could be ex-Afghan king Zakhir-Shah. He belongs to the Pashtoon, who make up about 60 percent of the population. Though Russia, which represents the Northern Alliance’s interests, cannot agree to this figure, because it does not suit the interests of Russia itself. Therefore, there this is something to discuss.
Issues of the Balkans and of Iraq were not covered at all; these seem to be subjects of further discussions.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/11/14/33794.html