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Putin praises Evian summit for easing post-war tensions

EVIAN, June 3 /Prime-TASS/ -- Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters Tuesday that he was confident the G8 summit in Evian “had been successful.”

“After the summit I am deeply convinced that the situation in the world has improved,” Putin said.

In commenting on the results of the summit, Putin made sure to mention the two key figures, French President Jacques Chirac, the host of the summit, and U.S. President George W. Bush, who met for the first time face to face in Evian after sharp divisions that developed over their positions on the military operation in Iraq.

The summit took place at a time when the situation in the world had been aggravated by the Iraqi crisis, Putin said.

“But thanks to French President Jacques Chirac, his gift for organizing discussions, his experience, it was possible to bring the positions (of the different sides) closer,” Putin said.

While saying that the U.S.’ military operation against Iraq was prompted by “hurt pride and a wish for self-assertion,” as a result of “the threat to national security following the September 11 attacks,” Putin said that the military option “was to a large extent not the best one.”

Putin went on to say that Russia’s position with respect to Iraq has remained consistent and transparent, adding at the same time that “it would be unforgivable” if Russia and other countries in this situation took offence and dissociated themselves from the U.S.

But “Russia has its own strategic interests and will continue to maintain a position of principle on the issues about which it has its own opinion,” Putin said without elaborating.

Earlier Tuesday Putin said Russia is now cooperating with Iran and will continue this cooperation further.

Putin also commented on Russia’s role in the contemporary world.

“Attitudes toward Russia have been changing for a long time,” the process depends on a multitude of factors and “the main problem is ourselves,” Putin said without elaborating.

“Russia is integrating into the international community more and more, becoming a full member of it, a fact confirmed by the recent international meetings,” he said.

The process is developing “along with democratization, strengthening of the economy, resolution of social problems,” he added.

Putin said that the participants of the G8 summit have agreed to create a counter-terror group that will “closely cooperate with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee.”

Russia will take an active part in the work of the group, mainly concerning the anti-terror issues in the CIS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Putin said.

Putin went on to say that “the members of the G8 are united by long-term strategic interests and that contentious issues can be discussed in an atmosphere of trust, which makes it possible to make mutually acceptable decisions.”

Speaking on a number of documents adopted at the summit, Putin said that “it is important that these documents, although their implementation is not compulsory, give a signal to the international community,” as to the position the G8 takes regarding key issues.

This, Putin said, helps “to build the entire structure of international relations.”

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