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#3 - JRL 7137
BBC Monitoring
US envoy urges Russia to focus on common goals in post-war Iraq
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 1105 gmt 8 Apr 03

Russia is a major US partner, Alexander Vershbow, the American ambassador to Moscow, has told Ekho Moskvy radio. Working together in post-conflict Iraq will be an important way to maintain the positive direction of the bilateral dialogue between the two countries, he said. The following is an excerpt from the interview broadcast by Russian Ekho Moskvy radio on 8 April:

[Aleksey Venediktov] What was the reason for and the goal of a lightening and semi-secret visit of US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to Moscow? What was this urgency about?

[Vershbow, speaking in Russian] The visit was decided by the [US] president to demonstrate our adherence to the partnership with Russia even when we have very serious differences of opinions on Iraq and to show our intention to do everything possible to continue cooperation.

[Venediktov] You are speaking about the form of the visit. And what about the content? What package was actually discussed by the [Russian] president and his advisors and Ms Rice?

[Vershbow, moving into English] I would say that they had a very broad-ranging discussion of the relationship as a whole and the priorities on our bilateral agenda. We emphasized that working together in post-conflict Iraq will be an important way to maintain the positive direction of our bilateral dialogue. And we in fact stress that it is important to start discussing these issues now, because the war of course is coming to an end. Saddam's regime is coming to an end. And we have to focus on our common interests in the post-war period...

[Venediktov] Mr Ambassador, could you tell us, despite the Iraqi war, is Russia for the United States more an opponent, a partner or an ally? Both in tactical and strategic terms.

[Vershbow, in Russian] I believe that Russia is one of our major partners. I also think that we may become allies. Indeed, this was a very difficult period in our relations. Still I believe that we are united by common interests, and even common interests in the Iraqi region and in post-war reconstruction of the country. Our common goal is to preserve the positive aspects of our relations and to extend cooperation and to limit the consequences of our disagreement.

[Venediktov] You took part in the meeting between Ms Rice and Mr Putin, the president of Russia. Does what you have just said correspond with President Putin's opinion? What is your impression?

[Vershbow, in Russian] My impression is that he wants to preserve the cooperation [existing] between our two countries. He does not minimize the difficulties and importance of our differences of opinion on Iraq. However, his intention to continue the development of our strategic partnership was absolutely clear...

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