Panama - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday warned Russian
President Vladimir Putin that Washington and its allies cannot be divided on
their mutual defense as a bitter row escalated over a proposed US missile
defence shield in eastern Europe.
US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, pictured in Panama City, June 4, warned Russian
President Vladimir Putin that Washington and its allies cannot be divided
on their mutual defense. [Agencies]
"The security of the United States
and the security of European allies is indivisible," Rice said on the margins of
the Organization of American States gathering here.
"It doesn't really help anybody to start threatening Europeans," said Rice.
The top US diplomat said relations between the two countries had been
transformed since the Cold War and that there was no need to revert to hostile
rhetoric from a bygone era.
Rice said US officials "don't consider Russia adversary and I hope they don't
consider the United States an adversary."
She said that Washington and Moscow "are cooperating in a whole range of
things," including nuclear proliferation, Iran, North Korea and terrorism.
"This is 2007 and not 1987," Rice continued.
"This isn't the Soviet Union and we need to drop the rhetoric that sounds
like what the United States and the Soviet Union used to say about each other,
and realize that the United States and Russia are in a very different period."
Rice said that US officials "have been very active in talking to the Russians
about this, not just explaining, but exploring it.
"We are prepared to do more of that," she said.
Putin recently talked openly of a "new arms race" and warned that Russia
would have new targets in Europe if Washington went ahead with plans to place
elements of a missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland, countries
once under Moscow's rule but now members of NATO.
Earlier, the White House struck a restrained tone, describing Putin's latest
comments in a missile defense feud with the United States as "not helpful."
"There has been some escalation in the rhetoric. We think that that is not
helpful," US national security adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters as US
President George W. Bush traveled to Europe.
"We would like to have a constructive dialogue with Russia on this issue. We
have had it in the past," Hadley said, with Bush due to see Putin at a summit of
industrialized nations in Germany this week.
Hadley had been asked about a possible US response after Putin again blasted
US plans to deploy a missile shield in Europe and warned that Moscow could
redeploy missiles aimed at targets on the continent.
"It does not pose a threat to Russia. Hopefully it is not about a threat from
Russia," said Hadley, who added that the two leaders would discuss the issue at
the summit in Germany and in a US summit in early July.
Bush will use a speech in Prague on promoting democracy around the world to
underscore the need for democratic reforms in China and Russia amid US
complaints that Putin has retreated from such openings, said Hadley.
"He'll talk a little bit about the challenge of promoting democracy in
countries -- big countries, in particular, where we have a complex relationship
with a lot of interests, places like China and Russia," said Hadley.
"The speech is not about Russia, it's about the freedom agenda," he insisted,
adding that "the president will handle this in a very responsible way" to avoid
further inflaming relations.
Russia will be a focus of the speech because "there are no exceptions to the
freedom agenda. So obviously when we look for the progress of freedom and
democracy, we look at the progress of freedom and democracy in Russia and China"