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Clinton Urges Russia To Join U.S. Effort On European Security

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

(RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today recommitted the United States to the defense of Europe -- not from Russia, but with Russia, if Moscow is willing.

Speaking at France's Ecole Militaire in Paris, Clinton said that "important work remains unfinished," including what she called an incomplete transition to democracy in parts of Europe and Eurasia.

Clinton also said decades-old arms-control treaties were "fraying" and noted that in many places, "economic opportunity is still too narrow and shallow."

Security-wise, Clinton said new threats have emerged in Europe since the end of the Cold War that demand a new approach.

"New dangers have emerged such as global terrorism, including cyberterrorism and nuclear terrorism; climate change; global criminal networks that traffic in weapons, drugs, and people; threats to Europe's energy supply, which if exploited, could destabilize economies and stoke regional and even global conflict," she said.

Clinton's message to Europe was that helping keep the continent secure remains "an anchor of U.S. foreign policy." The only change, she said, is that Washington is now inviting Moscow to join that effort.

Reaching Out To Moscow

In the interest of U.S. and Russian cooperation, the secretary called on Moscow to put aside some of its differences with the West, specifically Moscow's objection to a missile shield for Europe, and its proposal to revise the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which governs the presence of foreign troops in the continent.

She also sought to change Russia's mind about how it sees NATO and EU enlargement eastward, to include countries that were once part of Russia's self-defined sphere of influence.

"For years, Russia has expressed a sense of insecurity as NATO and the EU have expanded," she said. "But we strongly believe that the enlargement of both has increased security, stability, and prosperity across the continent and that this, in turn, has actually increased Russia's security and prosperity."

NATO, Clinton said, is looking to expand its own cooperation with Russia, including on missile defense.

Russia opposed the U.S. missile-defense program planned by former President George W. Bush, which called for missile batteries in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic. To Russia's relief, President Barack Obama has scrapped that plan in favor of a naval-based alternative.

Moscow isn't entirely happy with that idea, either, but Clinton said the United States would like it to be on board. "We are very serious about exploring ways to cooperate with Russia to develop missile defenses that enhance the security of all of Europe, including Russia," she said.

The only critical note came when Clinton criticized Russia for its expansionist policies in Georgia, where it has claimed independence for two breakaway republics.

"We have repeatedly called on Russia to honor the terms of its cease-fire agreement with Georgia and we refuse to recognize Russia's claims of independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Clinton said. "More broadly, we object to any spheres of influence claimed in Europe in which one country seeks to control another's future."

Iran Sanctions

During a question-and-answer session after her speech, Clinton was asked about China's reluctance to impose further UN sanctions on Iran for resisting negotiations over its nuclear program. Clinton replied that if Iran becomes a nuclear-armed state, China risks an eventual threat to its supply of oil.

Clinton said she understood Beijing's reluctance to penalize Iran, which is one of China's chief suppliers of oil. But she said that if Iran ever developed nuclear weapons, it would destabilize the Persian Gulf, disrupting oil shipments from the entire region.

The United States, Britain, France, and Russia -- four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- are considering new sanctions against Iran because of what they see as Tehran's persistent refusal to negotiate with them about its nuclear program.

China, the fifth permanent member of the council, has resisted the idea of sanctions. Because of its UN status, China can veto any effort to impose them on Iran.

Clinton said the international community is moving "away from the engagement track [and] forward on the pressure and sanctions track," and predicted that China will be "under a lot of pressure" to realize the risks of allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

with agency reports