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|Monday, June 18, 2001, updated at 15:06(GMT+8)|
Analysis: Russia-US Dialog Fails to Iron Out DifferencesRussian President Vladimir Putin and US President George W. Bush held their first meeting in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia on June 16. Judged from the situation of their meeting, although Putin and Bush both indicated that their dialog was "positive", "laying a sound foundation" for both sides to establish and develop a pragmatic relationship, no major breakthrough was made in Russian-US relations, and it remains hard for both countries to bridge over their differences in questions relating to global security and in such issues as the Balkan situation.
The first meeting between the Russian and US presidents extended about 45 minutes longer than originally planned. After the meeting was over, Putin and Bush both attended a press conference. Bush indicated that Russia is a world big country, constructive cooperation between the United States and Russia would bring more security and prosperity to the world. Bush said his first meeting with Putin was an important step toward the establishment of constructive US-Russian relations, both countries agreed that they would conduct extensive dialogs on a series of questions about carrying out constructive cooperation between the two countries. Putin has accepted invitation to visit the United States set for this fall, Bush has also accepted the invitation Putin extended to him to visit Russia.
Bush indicated that it was necessary to establish a brand-new US-Russian relationship, he believed that after the meeting, the two countries "can become reliable partners and friends, the two presidents have discussed and agreed to prevent the proliferation of large-scale antipersonnel weapons and jointly attack terrorism". He said that during the Cold War period, peace was built on the basis of possible elimination of the opposite side, but "now we have become friends, we must enter into cooperation". He disclosed both sides had decided through consultation to continue developing cooperation to jointly solve such regional issues as the Balkan, Nagorno-Karabahaskaja AO and Afghanistan. Bush said the United States and Russia had agreed to conduct conscientious and regular consultations concerning the nature of the two countries' security relations. For this end, he has instructed US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to continue consultation with the Russian side on establishing a new security framework for the two countries. The two leaders also discussed questions concerning economic cooperation between the two countries, they unanimously agreed that the current bilateral economic ties did not match the economic strength of the two countries. The two sides also studied questions relating to cooperation in the aspects of energy, space technology and the construction of Caspian Sea oil pipelining. Bush indicated that the United States was willing to increase investment in Russia, in order to boost Russia's economic development. To achieve this, he will send Finance Secretary Paul 0'neill and Commerce Secretary Evans to go to Russia for further discussions with the Russian side on related issues. Putin said that the meeting was candid and constructive, both sides had discussions on a wide range of problems, and that the talks had enabled both Russia and the United States to find a basis for expanded cooperation. Russia and the United States were currently engaged in active cooperation, and they wished, through joint efforts, to establish a constructive, realistic and foreseeable Russian-US relationship.
It is noteworthy that although the press conference proceeded in a lively atmosphere and the two sides were trying to create a sound atmosphere, the two sides failed to achieve substantive progress in major issues concerning global security.
On the question relating to the missile defense system plan, Putin firmly expressed Russia's determination to oppose the United States program for establishing a national missile defense (NMD) system. He said that Russia and the United States bear special responsibility for safeguarding world peace and stability and for establishing a new international security framework, all these require close bilateral cooperation and international cooperation, any unilateral action may possibly bring difficulties in solving problems appeared in modern society. He gave further explanations, saying that the ABM (Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty) signed in 1972 by the Soviet Union and the United States remains today the basic cornerstone of international security.. With regard to the eastern expansion of NATO, Putin said that Russia does not regard NATO as a hostile organization, but Russia does not understand why NATO makes step-by-step offensive. He asked in reply, "As a military organization, NATO is pressing hard toward Russia's border, why?"
At the press conference, Putin displayed to the reporters a recently deciphered document: A note sent by the Soviet government to NATO member states in 1954. The note indicated the intention of the Soviet government to join the NATO. Putin also disclosed to the reporters NATO's reply to the Soviet Union at that time: "There is no need to discuss such a totally unrealistic proposal."
Observers have noticed that in his speech delivered in Warsaw before the meeting, Bush indicated that the United States would not change its original intention of supporting NATO's eastern expansion and its program for deploying the NMD system. From the meeting between Bush and Putin this time, it can be seen that the Russian-US relationship, cooling down due to the NMD system program since the new Bush administration took office and the "espionage war disturbance", is being improved. But no matter how hard Bush is lobbying and explaining, the US aim to contain and weaken Russia has not changed, the differences between Russia and the United States in such major issues as the ABM treaty, NATO's eastern expansion and their respective strategic interests are hard to bridge over.
This commentary, written by Our Staff Reporter Sun Yongjun stationed in Russia, is published on Page 3 of People's Daily, June 18
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