Changing Partnership in Russia: Background Report
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RAY SUAREZ: After two days of talks at Camp David this weekend, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin described themselves as close partners, despite some differences. At a joint news conference Saturday, Mr. Bush praised the Russian president for his efforts in the war against terrorism, and backed Putin’s crackdown on Chechen separatist guerrillas who have recently launched several deadly attacks on Russian soil.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Both of our nations have suffered at the hands of terrorists, and both of our governments are taking actions to stop them. No cause justifies terror. Terrorists must be opposed wherever they spread chaos and destruction, including Chechnya.
RAY SUAREZ: The two presidents urged North Korea and Iran to abandon suspected nuclear programs. But despite two years of American pressure, President Putin made clear he would not abandon Russia’s $800 million commercial agreement to build a nuclear power plant in southern Iran.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN (speaking through interpreter): I would like to reiterate that Russia has no desire and no plans to contribute in any way to the creation of weapons of mass destruction, either in Iran or in any other spot or region in the world. I would like to reiterate that we comply firmly with the provisions of the nonproliferation treaty, because this course is in our national interest.
RAY SUAREZ: The Russian leader opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and he was non-committal about the bush administration’s latest appeal for other nations to contribute troops to a stabilization force and money for reconstruction.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN (speaking through interpreter): We understand that this is a very complicated process that should be based on a solid legal and administrative base, and should go ahead stage by stage. The degree and the extent and level of Russia’s participation in the restoration of Iraq will be determined after we know the parameters of the resolution… of the new resolution on Iraq.
RAY SUAREZ: President Bush predicted some doubting countries would be won over by a new United Nations resolution on Iraq.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I am pleased with the amount of cooperation we’re receiving, a coalition of nations inside of Iraq working hard to bring security to that country, as well as to help rebuild a country. I recognize that some countries are inhibited from participation because of the lack of a U.N. resolution. We are working to get a satisfactory resolution out of the U.N. We spent some time discussing that today.
RAY SUAREZ: The two presidents insisted they were able to move beyond any specific disagreements they might have and maintain a strong relationship.