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Positive outcome for Russia at APEC

The Russian delegation obtained support from Asian Pacific economies to join the WTO. In a bilateral meeting with US President George W. Bush, both leaders discussed about current developments in North Korea and Iran.

Putin had a good time this weekend at Chile’s APEC Summit. A smiling Russian leader enjoyed the good weather of Santiago as shared good wines with his colleagues from the Asian Pacific Area, which all together represent over 50% of world’s GDP and the 60% of foreign trade. Putin tried all over the weekend to change his image of severity for a friendlier one.

The Russian President arrived in Santiago on Monday from Moscow. The first item on his agenda was an official visit to Chilean President Ricardo Lagos at Ll Moneda House of Government. President Lagos welcomed Putin at the gates of La Moneda Palace at 6pm local time, before the statue of Salvador Allende, the Socialist president that ruled Chile from 1970 to 1973 before being ousted by a bloody military coup headed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Both heads of state held a private meeting at the presidential palace and signed a bilateral agreement for technical and military cooperation, which includes the exchange of military personnel. Leaders also signed a joint statement on the utilization of the outer space with peaceful purposes. Chile also signed a declaration stating that has already finished talks with Moscow on the recognition of Russia as a market economy.

Putin’s visit to Chile was the first-ever of a Russian leader to this South American nation. In a press conference, Putin thanked Lagos for his hospitality as guest country of APEC’s summit and remarked the similar views both countries hold in the construction of a safer and democratic world community. “We both believe that world issues have to be resolved in a multilateral way”, said the President.

Russia started diplomatic relations with Chile as early as in 1866, when both nations recognized each other. Ties abruptly ended in 1917 after the Bolshevik Revolution only to be restored in 1944. However, Moscow broke off ties with Chile in 1973 after a military coup toppled the Socialist and Soviet-supported President Allende. Both countries hold normal diplomatic ties since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990.

Both leaders vowed for a boost in trade relationship, which only reached $65 million in 2003, with Russia’s exports amounting $ 24 millions only according to Chile’s foreign trade office.

North Korea, Iran, high at the bilateral agenda with Bush

On Saturday morning, Putin met US President George W. Bush. It was significant that the Russian President had to move from his hotel, where he had just finished a couple of meetings with the Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian leaders, to the one where Bush was staying.

According to sources in Santiago, both leaders discussed about terrorism and, more specifically, the nuclear-proliferation issue, to which President Bush pay a special interest during his meetings with top leaders all over the weekend. Here, according to Russian Foreign Minster, Sergei Lavrov, current developments in North Korea and Iran were touched. 

Speaking about Iranian nuclear programs with Russian journalists here in Santiago, Mr. Lavrov pointed out that Russia did not possess any evidence indicating that Iran worked on the development of nuclear warheads for Iran's missiles. "We do not have such information and this issue was not discussed at today's meeting with US President Bush," the Russian Foreign Minister emphasized.

It was also commented that Bush may have touched the issue of the security in CIS countries, willing to obtain a green light from the Kremlin to operate in the area. A significant response of Lavrov on this: "Russia declared on numerous occasions that it did not have a desire to establish a sole control over the CIS space, yet it had certain interests there."

However, US sources remarked that Bush had expressed his concerns over the situation of democracy in Russia and a “defensive Putin explained in detail” his plans to led Russia to democracy respecting its traditions. PRAVDA.Ru could not independently confirmed such versions but learned that the US President was being harshly criticized by media in Washington and New York for not commenting on the situation. This could have led to the declarations coming out only from the US delegation.

Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Peru, Indonesia
During the APEC Leader’s Summit, Putin also held top bilateral meetings with a number of heads of state, as Mexico’s Vicente Fox, Peru's Alejandro Toledo, Japan's Jonichiro Koizumi and others.

In dialogue with PRAVDA.Ru, Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo confirmed that he was interested in permanents contacts with Russia. “We have historical ties with Russia and we have to develop them even further”, said Peru’s head of state. When PRAVDA.Ru asked him in which areas Russia and Peru could cooperate the most, Toledo mentioned two: “Russia has a great potential in the fishing and the aircraft industry”, he said. As to the last issue, Toledo said both countries have a bilateral agreement for aircrafts updating.

“Any time I come across (with Russian President Vladimir Putin) in an APEC Forum, we arrange our schedules for a bilateral meeting”, told Toledo to PRAVDA.Ru, stressing the good atmosphere between both leaders. Putin and Toledo met late in the night, after the dinner Chilean Lagos offered to forum leaders on Saturday.

Joining the WTO

All in all, the 12th APEC Leader’s Summit was positive for the Russian delegation. Moscow obtained support from the other 20 member on its bid to join the WTO. Countries like Chile, Thailand and South Korea also formally recognized Russia as a market economy, something considered essential to reach this goal.

Hernan Etchaleco
Reporting from Santiago, Chile

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