November 22, 2002

Rice: Russia Could Even Get NATO Membership

Russia might share defense plans with the United States and buy American missile technology if a new strategic framework is worked out in talks that open in Washington next week, President George W. Bush's national security adviser says.

Even membership in NATO is not ruled out, Condoleezza Rice said in an Associated Press interview as she outlined the Bush administration's concept for converting a relationship rooted in Cold War hostility to one based on friendly cooperation.

``I am hopeful there can be a new day with Russia,'' Rice said. ``We are talking about a bigger issue than what we do about missile defenses and strategic weapons.''

In the talks next Tuesday and Wednesday and subsequent rounds in Moscow and New York, ``They will see we have laid out for Russia and most of the world a path of cooperation,'' Rice said Thursday.

She stressed Russia has not accepted the cooperative concept, and it must adopt "stringent curbs" on "transfer of technology" to Iran and North Korea before the United States would permit the Kremlin to buy American equipment.

``We still have a proliferation problem of significant proportion,'' Rice said.

The talks -- Rice prefers to call them "consultations" rather than traditional "negotiations" -- are the first in a series of three rounds designed to implement the agreement Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached July 22 in Genoa, Italy. It linked US planning for a missile defense system with large cuts the Kremlin wants made in the two nations' still-massive nuclear weapons arsenals.

Russia's delegation will be headed by Col. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, first deputy chief of the general staff, and the US delegation by Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy.

US Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Assistant Secretary of State John Bolton then would go to Moscow for a second round, and Secretary of State Colin Powell would meet in New York in mid-September with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

``We've set up intensive consultations,'' said Rice, who held her own talks in Moscow after the Bush-Putin meeting. ``We believe there is a new strategic framework out there that permits missile defenses and involves offensive reductions.''

Washington's view is that both the United States and Russia have security reasons to begin a new relationship, she said. ``It is not built on implacable hostility, as it was with the Soviet Union,'' Rice said.

Putin has resisted US overtures to accept an anti-missile program that runs counter to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, but his willingness in Genoa to have talks simultaneously on defense systems and missile cuts was welcomed by Bush.

A new relationship, Rice said, could include the United States and Russia sharing defense plans ``so they see what the other side is doing,'' holding joint warning exercises and sharing missile data, including permission for Russia to purchase American equipment.

``We will have our differences with the Russians,'' she said. ``But we are not strategic adversaries.''

Formal, protracted negotiations marked the Cold War and produced a raft of arms control treaties, some of which have not been implemented. Such exercises are not part of the Washington's plan, according to Rice.

``What we don't want to have is a 12-year negotiation,'' she said.

(Chinadaily.com.cn 08/03/2001)

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