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Powell On Tour: EU And Uzbekistan

In This Item:
- Remarks At EU Justice and Home Affairs Council
- Press Briefing on Board Plane En Route Tashkent, Uzbekistan
- Joint Press Conference with President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan

Remarks At EU Justice and Home Affairs Council

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman (Brussels, Belgium) For Immediate Release December 6, 2001

Remarks By Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell At EU Justice and Home Affairs Council

Brussels, Belgium December 6, 2001

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much Mr. Minister, dear Louis, and colleagues at the head table and ministers around the table, thank you so very much for receiving me this afternoon and for giving me the unique opportunity to address this distinguished Council. I come here today to recognize your important work and to underscore the urgency of effective cooperation between the United States and the European Union against the scourge of terrorism.

September 11th changed our world. In the aftermath of these terrible acts of terrorism, we have emerged stronger and more unified in defense of our security, our values, and our way of life. Only a few months ago, cynics argued that the United States and Europe were drifting apart, caught up in squabbles over trade issues, bananas and the like. But now we know better. The European Union's swift and resolute support for the United States reflects the powerful and enduring bonds between our societies and the bedrock values that we share. You are our staunchest foul weather friend and we know it.

Cooperation in justice and law enforcement is essential to our common struggle against terrorism. Due in great part to the work of this Council, our judicial and police authorities have new tools to combat terrorism and to shut off terrorist financing. We are working with the provisional EUROJUST to enable our prosecutors to exchange information on terrorism. The U.S.-EUROPOL Agreement we sign today undergirds the new framework for law enforcement cooperation.

There is still much more to do. This Council is considering ways to facilitate the sharing of law enforcement information between the United States and European authorities. This is a complex issue, in part because of the differences in our legal systems, but it is hard to see how we can work together in criminal investigations without sharing data. I know we can resolve this issue and I hope we can resolve it quickly.

The European Union joined us in freezing the assets linked to the attacks. Now we need to take additional steps to halt the flow of terrorist financing. We must be able to move quickly and sometimes even on the basis of sensitive intelligence. It is essential to have the capacity to freeze assets expeditiously on an EU-wide basis. I am heartened by the progress the EU has made on a framework regulation that will meet this need and I urge its final passage.

Terrorism is an attack on our civilization and a great threat to our security. We must prepare ourselves for a prolonged struggle against those who would destroy our way of life. This is the work we have done together. This is the work you are doing here. And working together, we will prevail. So, on behalf of President Bush, on behalf of the American people, on behalf of all of us who love democracy and freedom, and the way of life that has brought us such security and such prosperity, I thank you for your support in this campaign against terrorism. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Louis.

###

Press Briefing on Board Plane En Route Tashkent, Uzbekistan

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release December 7, 2001

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Press Briefing on Board Plane En Route Tashkent, Uzbekistan

December 7, 2001

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay, who's first?

QUESTION: Can you tell us how your meeting with Foreign Minister Ivanov went? What did you decide? What were the issues that you discussed? Are they okay with the NATO thing? And did you talk about Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Foreign Minister Ivanov and I talked about the meeting that we had just concluded with the Permanent Joint Council, and he was very happy with the outcome of the NATO deliberations on NATO Russia at 20, NATO at 20. We reaffirmed what he had said in the bigger meeting, that they look forward to working with us and I know some of the questions you've been asking relate to will we be ready by Reykjavik? That would be certainly something we should try to shoot for, and there was a general feeling within the room that let's work hard, put our ambassadors to work at NATO, get into the modalities and the details of how often they will meet or what they will talk about, and see if we can not have some proposals ready for the ministers to consider before Reykjavik so that we can trek our ambassadors, see if we can have NATO at 20 at the time of Reykjavik. But that is not a deadline, it is not a given.

One of the things that emerged over the last several weeks that I also know is of interest to you is how fast to go, some wanted to go so fast as to do it this week. It became clear that we really, let's make sure that we know what we're doing, and let's think it through, and so we got a positive endorsement from the (inaudible) from NATO, from the Vilnius 9 and others who think this is a very significant step forward, and now we will instruct our ambassadors to go to work on the details, report to us in early spring so that we can make a judgment as to whether we're ready to meet at 20 at the time of Rejkavick.

He also talked about the all issues Afghanistan, current state of thinking on an international security force in Afghanistan, discussed briefly with him the fact that I was going to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan. Discussed my own coming visit to Moscow, strategic framework, the usual issues. It wasn't a very long meeting, he and I were both on our way to somewhere else, knowing we'll see each other two nights from now.

QUESTION: Can you explain what the objection was that we've heard about that caused Secretary Rumsfeld to want the "at 20" out of the opening sentence that we have decided to offer Russia, how it got back in, how NATO members reacted, and what the concerns were and how they got addressed?

SECRETARY POWELL: As we went through this over the last several weeks, we've been talking about it for a long time, President Putin and President Bush talked about it at Shanghai, and we kind of came to a conclusion that it's not 19 plus one anymore, it really have to be NATO at 20. So go back to Shanghai and flow it from there, and then Prime Minister Blair had a strong marker open.

Mr. Robertson then went to Moscow two weeks ago and some of the question extracted the word veto from him, or veto was tossed into the equation. That caused everybody to say, well, wait a minute. As the result of a lot of discussions held within the Washington community and with our friends overseas, we had to make sure that we had this right. And that really sort of said, hey, wait a minute. We have to ask what does NATO at 20 really mean? We had to kind of get agreement among ourselves in order that there was no misunderstanding, that NATO at 20 meant that NATO had the right to decide what it wanted to take to 20, and that NATO could decide anything it wished to at 19, and if it decided something at 19 and then took it to 20, that when it got to 20 and there was a problem, we could take it back to 19 and decide it. And so we wanted to make sure that everybody understood that Russia would not have a veto. And as Minister Ivanov said this morning in his opening intervention, we understand perfectly that Russia does not have a veto. And then, comma, and by the way, you don't have a veto on us either, you know, just to cover all the possibilities. So they understand perfectly what that means.

And then there is a lot of discussion about what is that we will do at 20, are there specific categories, are there projects that come along? And to square that circle, he said, here are illustrative areas in which at 20 seems to make some sense: counterterrorism, crisis management, and other things you've heard about. And that seemed like a good model to begin with without the closing that might be added to such a list or the guessing such a list, just to put these areas down as illustrative of the kinds of things that might be discussed at 20.

So there's always this long line, those who spent a lot of time on statements and communiqués were hard at work on it, and I guess about two days ago, my staff said, here's where we are, here are the debates. I immediately got interested of course at that point and the only thing I was certain of was that however we worked it out, wherever it went in the joint statement or communiqué, at 20 was the key and at 20 had to be in there in no uncertain terms. It was in there at the end of a sentence and I think it ended up in the right place, because where it is at the end of that sentence kind of wraps the whole sentence and to whole paragraph into an at 20 context. There were some who wanted it 3 times, some who didn't care, the important point is at 20 was in there and (inaudible) no longer remember all the backs and forth of it. There was a concern to make sure that at 20 was in there, balanced against not giving too much emphasis on at 20 so that it suggested that there was some feel of authority or we were giving some authority to Russia by overstating the at 20 in the communiqué.

QUESTION: Just to follow, we took it out, and then we put it back in?

SECRETARY POWELL: As the Secretary who tables these things at the end of the day, at 20 was never out. There may have been drafts around...at 20 had to be in there or else it wasn't there, I mean, we didn't have what we agreed to. And so at 20 was always an operating proposition. It's where we took the President in Shanghai, where the President took us to in Crawford and Washington, so there was a lot of debate, but it was always understood that what we were talking about was not 19 plus one, but NATO at 20, and how do you capture that, and where it went in the document, this was the subject of a lot more interagency to and fro.

QUESTION: Did the Pentagon want it out?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm not going to attribute views to the Pentagon, I'll let you go talk to your old friends over there, Pat. It was never out as far as I was concerned, because I thought that was reflective of what the President and Putin had agreed to and the allies expected and what the Russians were expecting. QUESTION: What can you add to the next three stops? Will you be putting in any new requests for help from the Central Asian republics on military and humanitarian stuff and also are you bringing new assistance, new aid to them?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't have any new requests that are not already known to those governments, Kyrgyzstan's parliament approved a request that we made some time ago and I'm pleased about it. I have not been given anything new by the Pentagon that they have not already presented through diplomatic channels, through our ambassadors who handle it, and through the State Department pol-mil office. And I'm not carrying a booty bag filled with new money.

We'll talk about what we have been able to do to help these countries, thank them for their cooperation, and just listen to them as well as let them know that we're deeply appreciative of what they're doing, and I want to look beyond just what's happening in Afghanistan, what this means to relationships with these countries as we move forward. That's important. When you think a few minutes ago about the sensitivity of those southern "Stans" to the Russians and to us, many of my early conversations with Foreign Minister Ivanov and others, they had concerns about the south, terrorism, drugs, trafficking, smuggling, and to think that since the 11th of September we have been able to talk so openly with them and with the Russians in a way that says we can have a better relationship with these countries without causing the Russians to be concerned about it, and we talk openly about these things now.

We also talked about, Mr. Ivanov and I talked about the Russians coming into Afghanistan, and here (inaudible) about it a little bit, because suddenly they were there one day, and two phone calls cleared it all up, and that's the kind of transparency that exists in the relationship now between me and Igor, Don and Sergei, Condi and (inaudible), the President and Putin, so that these things don't spin out of control because of a little bit of confusion.

QUESTION: Could you reflect on the history of the change in the nature of the relationship between the United States and NATO and Russia and the bigger picture of things, not just, how important this event was into putting into concrete terms the nature of the relationship, and secondly, on Central Asia, the same kind of thing, how important is Central Asia beyond Afghanistan to the United States? This is a diplomatic backwater traditionally for the United States, are we moving into a whole new area, developing a whole new series of relationships for the long term as well?

SECRETARY POWELL: It has been something of a backwater for us. Twelve years ago, there were very few Americans who could tell you what they were or anything about these countries, and then after the cold war, they emerged, and they're looking for their place in the sun. They're looking for a continuing relationship with Russia, neighbors of theirs, and also a relationship with the West, just as the Russians are looking for a relationship with the West, because when they look West, they see opportunity, they see investment, they see assistance, they see a value system.

Now these regimes, these governments are not where we would like them to be yet, far from it. We are rather candid with them about the nature of their political processes and the state of development of their institutions, but they are looking to the West because they know that's where success lies, so we have new opportunities to work with and those opportunities I think are accelerated by the events of 11 September. You know, you're plugging along, you're having meetings, things are moving slowly, there is wariness. And then you have something like the 11th of September come along, and it just breaks through a lot of barriers. We need military help, we need access to your base, to suddenly open up other opportunities for further dialogue. The key here is not to just say thank you for the use of your base and we're out of here, but to use that opening for other purposes of liberalization, democracy, putting their economies on a sounder basis. A lot of smuggling, and drug trafficking and terrorism, passes through this region - threats to them, threats to Russia, and ultimately, threats to us as well.

The evolution between NATO and Russia, in the ten, eleven months that I've been Secretary, this is the second PJC I think I've been at. The first one was kind of contentious, talking about Bosnia and Macedonia, the Russians weren't all that happy with some of the things that we were doing.

This one was smooth as silk, with Russia knowing what was going to be decided yesterday with respect to NATO at 20, and Foreign Minister Ivanov coming and taking the chair, it was kind of humorous. He sat there, Lord Robertson welcomed everybody and invited him to speak. Foreign Minister Ivanov spoke and gave a good intervention and the introductory intervention, he gave another one, and he gave his intervention and then he immediately says, I now give the floor to...and he was directing the traffic, because he's the chair, the co-chair. It was a very mellow, a very comfortable setting, and everybody was supportive of what we were doing. The fact that you're sitting there, in fact, one of the ministers looked back at Foreign Minister Ivanov and said, you know, it's rather amazing to be sitting here and to be recognized and given the floor by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation at a NATO meeting. Was it Joschka? I think it was Joschka Fischer. It was a light moment, there were a lot of light moments, it was a different kind of meeting. They're coming West, they want to come West, this I think will help a great deal as we move into next year and start to set up the very different, very exciting and difficult process leading to a decision in Prague of who will be invited to join the alliance. The fact that Russia at 20 is kind of part of our whole discussion system I think makes it a little easer to deal with the challenges of NATO enlargement.

QUESTION: On Uzbekistan, what's the status of the talks over Friendship Bridge, how does that look before your talks in Tashkent, and would you have expected that perhaps it would have been open in time for you to go there and usher the aid through?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I hope it will be open soon, but I've been saying this for the last week or so. I think it will be open soon, I don't know if they will try to open it before I arrive or after I leave or what. I won't be able to get down there, the airfield won't accommodate a trip. I would have liked to have done that, but it is no surprise coming out of a hat on that one. But I hope they will open it in the very near future so that we can start aid going across. The aid going across isn't the major issue right now, it's the distribution on the other side. The barges can handle the quantities that can be accommodated on the south side for the moment. But I would like to get it open so things, all kinds of stuff, can start going back and forth. But they still have some security concerns, there's a lot of uncertainty south of the bridge and north of Mazar-e-Sharif. It's not totally secure and stable, and the Uzbeks have always been nervous about that kind of instability just south of the bridge.

QUESTION: I'm just curious if you're expecting to make any progress at all on the ABM front when you're in Moscow. There seems to have been some frosty language after John Bolton's preparatory visits there.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, there was a frosty Reuters report, but when you read the Ministry of Foreign Affairs actual transcript, it's pretty much more of the same. Foreign Minister Ivanov and I talked about it some more this morning, I'm sure we'll talk about it extensively tomorrow night, or Sunday night, and I'll discuss it again with President Putin on Monday morning. I think we're fine on the strategic piece of it, and how to move all the verification pieces of START I and START II into some new framework, but the defense piece is still a challenge for us.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the situation in Afghanistan right now? Do you have any idea where Omar is? Are you concerned about whether Karzai might have tried to cut a deal to protect him? Is there a chance that he might cut such a deal, and would the United States consider any situation short of capturing him completely and bringing him to justice?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, let me go to the last one, because no, we're not interested in a deal just as Secretary Rumsfeld said yesterday, and in backing up, I'm not sure if we know where he is, I'm a little removed from all of the intelligence and information centers back in Washington and I do not know if Karzai was really doing what it is being reported he was doing, I just don't know.

QUESTION: Do you know what the Turkish president said about his conversation with Ariel Sharon yesterday about wanting to get rid of Yasser Arafat? We'd like your comments on that.

SECRETARY POWELL: He said to me yesterday that he had spoken to both Sharon and Arafat. I don't know if he had spoken to him yesterday morning or the day before.

He said he had a long conversation with him. I don't recall him saying that to me and I don't want it attributed to me, what he might or might not have said, or what Sharon might or might not have said to the Turkish Prime Minister.

QUESTION: Do you still consider Yasser Arafat as a valid interlocutor in the Middle East?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yasser Arafat remains the chairman of the Palestinian Authority and the recognized leader of the Palestinian people. I think he should do more as we've been saying to get the violence down. I hope this afternoon General Zinni is convening a meeting between the two sides. Mr. Sharon wanted such a meeting as did Mr. Arafat. So clearly both sides are anxious to see if we can put the pieces back together to start moving towards a cease-fire. But this is not going to occur under circumstances of violence that have not been brought under control.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you say if you have been able to find out if you have any loose change rattling around in your pocket for the new government or if you've had time to talk to the allies about any money they might have?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're just still looking for money. We'll find some. It's not going to take a lot to get them started. I think I've discussed with you before how even when we get into reconstruction, Afghanistan is not Western Europe after World War II. The amounts aren't going to be comparable. You can do a lot with a lot less money than people might think. With respect to the international security force, still under discussion, I had a lot of discussions with my colleagues here. Many of them are interested and still debating who might be the lead of such a force. Last night they passed a resolution in New York that blessed the Bonn agreement. I talked to Ambassador Negroponte last night and they'll deal with the resolution on the international security force separately from that. There's a lot of discussion about mission, (lead), size, connection to the UN, connection to the interim administration, so we need more work on that resolution. There are a lot of conversations taking place now on who would be in, for what purpose, with what command and control arrangement. Rich and the guys back in Washington are working on that right now.

QUESTION: Now can you tell us any stories about the Italian refusal to endorse the Europol agreement? It seems quite interesting that you thought it was a little weak and they thought it was a little strong. Where does that stand now?

QUESTION: (...) separate agreement on law enforcement, not the Europol

agreement. That's within the EU. That's not part of our agreement.

SECRETARY POWELL: The issue you're referring to is just what Richard said. It's an extradition procedure within the EU and the Italians aren't ready to go along with it. We've got nothing to do with it. I think I'll just stop there. Thank you.

###

Joint Press Conference with President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman (Moscow, Russia) For Immediate Release December 8, 2001

Joint Press Conference By Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell And President Islam Karimov At The Presidency

Tashkent, Uzbekistan December 8, 2001

PRESIDENT KARIMOV: Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Secretary Powell to Uzbekistan and through him to convey my great respect to President Bush and to American people. We have just had a very open and candid exchange of views on the issues pertaining to bilateral relations as well as to the situation with the antiterrorist operation. If you think that we focused our attention mainly on the situation in Afghanistan, you will be mistaken. And it should be said that Secretary Powell revealed great knowledge of the situation in Uzbekistan not only with regard to the Afghanistan events but also he showed very deep knowledge on the political situation in this country, the fate of democratic reforms, and the events in the fields of economy and human rights and we have this conflux of questions of mutual interest, the issues which are of interest for both countries and where Uzbekistan can be duly criticized. And I would like to state that as a result of these negotiations we arrived at the complete understanding of the number of issues and most importantly pertaining to the issue of anti-terrorist operations. And I would like to say that I am very optimistic about the future of the operation and expanding cooperation between Uzbekistan and the United States. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. President. And thank you for receiving me here today. It was my pleasure to bring to the President the greetings of President Bush and also to extend to him our thanks for all the support we have received from Uzbekistan in pursuing this campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the world as well. They have been an important member of this coalition against terrorism, and I'm sure they will continue to be so in the future.

I assured the President that our interest in Uzbekistan and in this region go far beyond the current crisis in Afghanistan. In the months ahead, we look forward to deepening and widening our relationship with Uzbekistan on security issues, on economic issues, issues of political democratization and human rights, and we had a very full exchange of views on all of these matters. And Assistant Secretary Jones will return to Uzbekistan next month to continue this dialogue.

We also discussed the humanitarian situation in the region, and in that regard the President confirmed that the Freedom [Friendship] Bridge would open tomorrow after a last technical check on the part of his staff, and this will ease the flow of humanitarian aid into Afghanistan. I thank the President for this decision and this announcement.

I was also pleased to provide the President with a letter from President Bush extending his greetings, thanks for the support we have received, and hoping that he and the President will be able to meet in Washington in the not too distant future at a time to be determined by both sides.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT KARIMOV: I would like to add that it is with great satisfaction that I accept the invitation of President Bush, which is expressed in his letter. I look forward to going to Washington in order to discuss the issues of mutual interest not only with President Bush, but also with the American public and with the United States Congress, and all those people who are involved in improving relations between Uzbekistan and the United States.

As far as the bridge is concerned, I would like to tell you that tomorrow the appointed state committee will be at the place in order to give its formal approval for the opening of the bridge and to propose the arrangements as far as the infrastructure of the bridge is concerned, checkpoints, customs points. I would like to join Secretary Powell in his statement that the opening of this bridge is very important from the political, economic, and humanitarian points of view.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. Neil King with The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Secretary, for two months the international community has pushed to create a representative government in Afghanistan. This morning you quoted Thomas Jefferson saying that a government must rely on the consent of the governed. I was curious to know what your critique was of the state of democracy in Uzbekistan and how you raised these concerns with President Karimov.

SECRETARY POWELL: We had a good candid discussion of the democratization process, and the importance of political democracy. I mentioned to him that I had spoken to kids earlier this morning about the importance of voting. We have areas where we disagree as to how fast progress should be made or could be made and it is something that we will continue to discuss. I discussed it with the president as well as with the foreign minister. The president's emphasis is to bring up a new generation that understands. And the pace at which democratization takes place was the item that was on his mind.

QUESTION: The question is for Mr. Powell. Many believe that the current situation presents merely a temporary staging point in Uzbekistan for the United States in its antiterrorist operation. Do you think that the recent intergovernmental talks that were held in Washington are proof that this is not the case? That you're interested in the region and its political and economic situation, and not just in military operations?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it is proof that we are interested in a permanent change for the better in our relationship and the president and I spoke about this extensively this morning. That we are looking for a relationship that will endure long after this crisis is over. I applauded Uzbekistan and the president personally for the political courage shown by him, his government and his people to assist us in this campaign. We will respect that courage by continuing to remain engaged with them long after this crisis is over.

QUESTION: Andrea Koppel, CNN. President Karimov, what do you say to your critics who say that you are nothing more than a brutal, repressive, authoritarian dictator? And for Secretary Powell, sir, the Uzbek government had been dealing with its own Taliban-like problem. What help has the Uzbek government asked from the United States in dealing with Islamic militants? Thank you.

PRESIDENT KARIMOV: I am very surprised to hear the question you posed. And I believe that these questions that are (inaudible) are due to be asked and probably we cannot circumvent these questions. We have to answer them. What can I answer? My answer is that one is to see things rather than hear them one hundred times. I would like to invite you for communication with me on a more permanent basis and believe that I will not disappoint you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Uzbekistan does have a problem with Islamic fundamentalism and we talked about that as well. I think it is because they had such a problem that caused them to realize that it would be wise to join in the campaign against terrorism. I'm not aware of any specific requests that they have made, there may have been, I just don't have (inaudible).

PRESIDENT KARIMOV: I'd like to add something. If you say that Uzbekistan has problems with fundamentalism, that is fair enough, but this problem is not restricted to this country. It can be seen in vast areas: Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Middle East. And we should also talk about European countries that gave sanctuaries to certain extremist organizations that feed this very fundamentalism and nurture it. And if you look at London and some other European capitals, you will see that these extremist organizations feel themselves very comfortable and they are able to raise funds and channel them to hot spots around the world.

When the United States declares that its mission is to disrupt terrorist machines I think that it should not be understood in a limited way. It is not only the military operations in Afghanistan, but also the disrupting the terrorists who aid and abet the fundamentalists and terrorists. And it should be said that the situation with the fundamentalists and the radical extremist organizations was always under control and therefore we never applied to the international community for assistance. And I believe that it is very inappropriate to ask this question in this very way. I would like to tell that we have always been able to deal with this manifestation by our own forces. Therefore, I believe it is absurd to inflame this situation or exaggerate to say that military force should be applied.

In this regard, it should be said that the presence of United States troops in Uzbekistan has nothing to do with this problem and if somebody is tempted to think this way I would like to disappoint you. Thank you.

QUESTION: Russian Information Agency ITAR-TASS. This is a question for Mr. Powell. You are going to visit Russia as a part of your program of planned visits. And I believe that the international fight against terrorism will be successful and that international efforts to combat terrorism by the United States and the international coalition will eventually succeed, and terrorism if not completely destroyed will be put under control. In Russia certain politicians claim that the cooperation between Russia, the United States and its allies is of a temporary character and is connected with the antiterrorism cooperation. Mr. Powell, can you say that the relations between the United States and Russia will continue to develop progressively? Can you see any extension of this relationship?

SECRETARY POWELL: The relationship between the United States and Russia has fundamentally changed. Russia right after the events of September 11 in the person of President Putin made a powerful statement supporting our coalition objectives. We appreciated that and it showed the new level of cooperation between the United States and Russia.

Beyond that, though, we are cooperating in many other areas. Just yesterday in Brussels at a meeting of NATO and Russia, we committed ourselves to working with Russia more closely, and we are calling it "NATO at Twenty". Nineteen NATO nations will meet frequently in the future with Russia and the body called "NATO at Twenty". I think this is evidence of Russia integrating itself more fully with the west, more fully with western security and political organizations and by extension with the United States.

I will be in Russia tomorrow night. This will be either my fifteen or sixteen visit with Foreign Minister Ivanov in the last ten months which I think is evidence of the closeness of the relationship and President Bush and President Putin have met several times already. So, yes, the relationship is improving and it is not just as a result of the campaign on terror, but because we have mutual interests beyond terrorism. Thank you.

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