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Biden to RFE/RL: US Won't Tolerate Russian Spheres of Influence


PRAGUE - US Vice President Joe Biden in an interview with RFE/RL (23Oct2009)

PRAGUE - US Vice President Joe Biden in an interview with RFE/RL (23Oct2009)

(PRAGUE, Czech Republic) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told RFE/RL's audience around the world today that "America wants to hit the reset button with Russia, not the memory erase button." On Iran, he said the U.S. is not "selling out" on democracy and human rights in order to negotiate with Tehran over nuclear weapons. [listen to the interview and read the transcript]

"I made it clear that, with respect to Russia, there are two principles that are not negotiable. First, no spheres of influence - we will not tolerate that. And second, no veto power over the ability of any nation in any part of Europe or the rest of the world to make its own decision about which alliances it wishes to join."

Biden's stop in Prague is the final leg of his trip to Central and Eastern Europe this week aimed at reassuring allies that the U.S. commitment to the region remains strong.

"My message to Central and Eastern Europe is simple. It is precisely because of our obligations in places like China, India, Pakistan, and Iran that we need to stay deeply involved in Europe. We need a secure, whole, free Europe that is expanding."

America wants to hit the reset button with Russia, not the memory erase button

To RFE/RL's Radio Farda audience in Iran, Biden said the administration is not ignoring concerns about democracy and human rights.

"We are not going to sell anyone out or any democratic forces out because, at the end of the day, that is counterproductive to our long-term interests."

"But the most destabilizing thing that could occur would be the impact of a nuclear Iran on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and the list goes on," he said. "It is in the interests of the world, it is in the interests of the people of Iran, it is in the interests of the people of Europe that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. Not merely for the threat it may pose, less to us than to Europe and other parts of the world, but because of the cycle it may begin to generate, in terms of expansion of nuclear states."

Biden also discussed Afghanistan's plans for a run-off election and the Pakistani military's offensive against the Taliban and Islamic extremists in the Swat Valley.

"Pakistan's new military operation is in direct response to the real, legitimate threats they see. We are prepared to be of whatever assistance they want us to be, not in terms of American forces, but in providing for their ability to deal with the fight against Jihadis and radical Islamicists there."

[listen to the interview and read the transcript]

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