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Russia: U.S. Official Says Moscow Need Not Be Adversary

Washington, 7 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush's national security advisor says there is no reason Russia should re-emerge as America's strategic adversary. Condoleezza Rice said last night that Washington seeks constructive and positive relations with Moscow. She said Bush is looking forward to a summit in Slovenia later this month with Russian President Vladimir Putin so Bush can explain his vision for security in the 21st century.

Rice told reporters Bush will talk during the 16 June meeting about areas of cooperation, such as trying to bring peace to Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as about areas of differences such as Chechnya and freedom of the media in Russia.

Earlier, Bush said in a speech commemorating the 57th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy:

"When I go to Europe next week, I will reaffirm the ties that bind our nations (with the European democracies) in a common destiny. These are the ties of friendship and hard experiences. They have seen our nations through a world war and a cold war."

Bush is scheduled to arrive in Spain on 12 June on the first leg of a trip that will also include Belgium, Sweden, and Poland.

The U.S. also urges harmony with Russia on Central Asia.

A State Department official who specializes in the Central Asian states has called on the United States and Russia to work more harmoniously in their respective dealings in Central Asia.

Christopher Bond told a U.S. House of Representatives panel yesterday:

"Where our interests coincide, such as on Afghanistan and regional security, we look to active cooperation with the Russian government. Where we have diverging interests, such as energy policy, we want to discuss our differences openly and respect our varying perspectives. My point is that neither side should seek to exclude the other from the region."

Bond is the acting principal deputy special adviser to the U.S. secretary of state for the Newly Independent States. His area includes Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

In a report, the international advocacy group Human Rights Watch says the governments of these countries have made only limited progress in democratic reform in the 10 years since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The group said religious repression in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is reminiscent of Soviet rule.

Responding to the report, Bond said the U.S. may again designate Turkmenistan as a country of concern regarding human rights. But he said there appears to have been progress on religious tolerance in Uzbekistan.

Separately, reports on Russian diplomacy say Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is due to arrive in Ankara later today for talks with Turkish leaders on a range of bilateral and regional issues.

Ivanov's talks are expected to include preparations for a visit to Turkey by President Vladimir Putin.

An array of economic cooperation and security issues is also expected to be raised. Tensions between the Turkish and Russian governments were heightened in recent months over allegations of Turkish support for the activities of Chechen separatist rebels. Turkey denied all such allegations.

Before arriving in Ankara, Ivanov is due in Hamburg, where he will chair a meeting of foreign ministers from the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Russia today takes over the rotating chairmanship of the Council from Germany.

The Council was established in 1992 to promote economic and political integration in the Baltic region. Members include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden.