#4 - JRL 7133
April 7, 2003
BUSH SENDS PUTIN A WOMAN
National security adviser will discuss Iraq with senior Russian officials
Author: Katerina Labetskaya, Valentina Kulyabina, Arkady Dubnov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER CONDOLEEZZA RICE ARRIVED IN MOSCOW YESTERDAY. SHE INTENDS TO MEET WITH SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY VLADIMIR RUSHAILO AND DEFENSE MINISTER SERGEI IVANOV. RICE'S VISIT IS OVERSHADOWED BY AN INCIDENT IN IRAQ: A CONVOY EVACUATING RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS WAS FIRED UPON.
US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice arrived in Moscow yesterday. It seems that presidents Bush and Putin had agreed on her visit during their recent telephone conversation, initiated by the United States. This is only a one-day visit, but its agenda has not been finalized yet. Rice's arrival came as such a surprise that we had trouble finding out she would be meeting with Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. A meeting with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is also probable. Rice would like to meet with President Putin; however, that was still undecided yesterday.
Nikolai Zlobin, head of Russian and Asian Programs at the Center for Defense Information in the United States: "Condoleezza Rice has been focusing on post-Saddam government issues and Iraq's recovery after the war. Obviously, she will discuss these issues with Russian politicians in Moscow. The US is not satisfied with Russia's stand on these matters, which is why Rice and Russian ministers will discuss coordingation of the limited role which the Americans are offering the United Nations in the post-war recovery of Iraq."
Rice's visit to Moscow is overshadowed by an incident in Iraq: a convoy evacuating Russian diplomats was fired upon, and there are some suspicions that US special forces were responsible.
Nikolai Zlobin: "I think this incident won't have an effect on the negotiations, especially since the Americans have been advising all diplomats to leave Iraq for some time. That's why, in formal terms, the US isn't taking any moral responsibility for the welfare of those who have stayed."
Rice will most likely discuss possible bilateral cooperation within the context of Russian-US strategic partnership. "We have always cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the US in solving all problems, including global problems," said Vladimir Putin.
Putin has repeatedly emphasized to Russian citizens who are currently caught up in a wave of anti-American sentiments that the US is Russia's largest trade and economic partner. "Trade turnover came to $9.2 billion in 2002 and it will reach $10 billion this year," Putin said.
Rice will also discuss preparations for the Bush-Putin summit scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg later this year, during tercentenary celebrations.
As for a halt to military operations in the Gulf - even if Russia does raise this issue during negotiations with Rice, it is unlikely to be met with any understanding.
Nikolai Zlobin, whose view clearly reflects the prevailing opinions among US leaders, told us: "The United States is not annoyed by Russia's efforts to return the Iraq conflict to peaceful channels. The Russian president's statement on that point is so very naive that it's not worth getting annoyed about." (Translated by Gregory Malutin)