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Putin Slams US Foreign Policy in Munich
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Russian President Vladimir Putin Saturday slammed the United States for its "almost uncontained" use of force in the world, and voiced several other differences with the west on global security issues.

"We are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations ... the United States has overstepped its national borders in every way," said Putin at a high-profile security conference in southern German city of Munich.

"The legitimate use of force can only be done by the United Nations, which cannot be replaced by EU or NATO," he said.

Putin warned that a US-led "unipolar world" was unacceptable and had led to more wars and conflicts in the world. "The unilateral illegal action has not resolved any problem."

The US policy of "uncontained hyper-use of military force" was " very dangerous" and "nobody feels secure anymore," Putin said, adding that it drives many countries to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Putin criticized the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) for becoming a "vulgar instrument for ensuring foreign policy of one country."

He also sharply criticized the planned development of 10 anti-ballistic missiles systems by the US in Poland and the Czech Republic, vowing that Russia would develop cheaper, asymmetrical systems to overcome the threat.

On the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Putin said "NATO expansion is a serious factor which reduces the level of mutual trust."

In March 2004, the three former Soviet republics -- Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia -- joined the NATO, bringing the military alliance to Russia's gate.

Russia has the right to ask at whom NATO is aimed at as it expands its bases and infrastructures toward Moscow when the real global threat was posed by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, Putin said.

Putin also spoke about the differences with the west on Kosovo. He said Russia won't support any international solution to resolve Kosovo's status if it is unacceptable to either Serbia or the province's ethnic Albanian majority.

"If we see that one of the sides is clearly unsatisfied with the proposed ways to solve the situation, we will not support the decision," said Putin.

The international community, mainly the European Union and the United States, is not in the right position to solve the problem, he said. "Only the Kosovars and Serbs can resolve this," he said.

Speaking of the Iran nuclear issue, the Russian leader stressed that the international community should address the concerns of Iran as it seeks a solution to Tehran's nuclear crisis.

"We should not corner Iran into a hostile environment," Putin said.

There is no evidence, after all, that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, he said.

The Russian president said the international community should "be more patient and work together" to solve the crisis.

Also speaking at the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a tougher statement on Iran, warning that Iran must accept western demands over nuclear weapons or face international isolation.

"If Iran does not do so then the alternative for Iran is to slip further into isolation," said Merkel.

The international community is "determined to prevent the threat posed by an Iranian military nuclear program," said Merkel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
Some 250 top officials from over 40 countries, including US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, attended the 43rd Munich security conference which opened late Friday and ends on Sunday.

Besides Putin and Merkel, the meeting was also attended by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and EU chief diplomat Javier Solana.

(Xinhua News Agency February 11, 2007)

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