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#5 - JRL 7210
BBC Monitoring
Newspaper lists Russia's possible rewards for supporting USA
Source: Argumenty i Fakty, Moscow, in Russian 3 Jun 03

President Bush's visit to St Petersburg [on 1 June] showed that the USA is still interested in good relations with Russia. It has become clear that a certain complacency on the part of the Americans after the terrorist air attacks on New York and Washington is somewhat premature.

Bush, who according to [US National Security Adviser] Condoleezza Rice, has taken upon himself the messianic role to rid the world of pockets of instability, greatly counts on Putin. We have already been assigned an important part in dampening Iran's nuclear ambitions. Our president has publicly confirmed that we are also worried about this problem. A small matter remains: to make sure that the Americans do not have a secret desire to get rid of business rivals.

But what can we get in return?

First, rumour has it that the Americans may compensate us for our financial losses if the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power station [in Iran] is cancelled.

Second, the new Iraqi government might recognize Iraq's debts to Russia, which stands at 8bn dollars, and write them off in return for the write-off of Russia's debts to Paris Club countries.

Third, some of the contracts signed by Russian companies in Husayn's Iraq might be recognized as valid.

Fourth, we might be allowed to continue selling conventional weapons to Iran since the Iraq experience revealed their ineffectiveness against high-tech weapons.

After all, although Iran is our neighbour with which we must be friends, it can give us a lot of headaches. The country is under control of Shi'ite Islamic fundamentalists. In due course they may start exerting considerable influence on Russian Muslims, especially in the North Caucasus.

It has been reported many times that Iran financially and ideologically supports Hezbollah, the Palestinian organization whose members are the main source of shahids - kamikazes who almost daily blow themselves up together with dozens of Israelis.

One of our closest neighbours, Azerbaijan, may have big problems with Iran, including an open military confrontation. But any instability in Azerbaijan will pose a serious threat to Russia, in which millions of Azeris live. In a word, there is food for thought here: who are our enemies?

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