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World – Clinton Calls for Joint Missile-Defense System on Russia Trip

Janine Zacharia

Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wrapping up a three-day trip to Russia, said the U.S. and Russia should work toward creating a joint missile-defense system to combat common threats.

In remarks to students at Moscow State University, Clinton rebuked those in the U.S. and in Russia who remain locked in a Cold War mentality that precludes the trust necessary for such cooperation.

“We have people in our government and you have people in your government who are still living in the past,” she said. “They don’t believe that the United States and Russia can cooperate to this extent. They do not trust each other. And we have to prove them wrong. That is our goal.”

If the U.S. and Russia were one day to announce a joint plan on missile defense, this would be a “very positive outcome,” she said in a gilded auditorium on a stage flanked by carved images of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.

Missile defense is among the issues that have divided the U.S. and Russia in recent years. President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap a Bush administration plan to station radars and missile interceptors in the Czech Republic and Poland was welcomed in Russia.

During Clinton’s meetings in Moscow, Russian officials showed interest in cooperation on missile defense, U.S. officials said.

‘Unpopular Positions’

Clinton’s trip was aimed at outlining opportunities for collaboration with Russia on a wide range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program and the war in Afghanistan. She made gentle jabs at Russia’s record on free speech.

“People must be free to take unpopular positions,” she said. “Attacks on journalists and human rights defenders here in Russia” are “a threat to progress.”

On Oct. 7, Clinton issued a statement marking the third anniversary of the killing of journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, whose murderers have never been brought to justice.

During her visit, Clinton renewed U.S. support for Georgia, which fought a war with Russia last year, acknowledging that the U.S. and Russia “won’t see eye to eye” on the issue.

Georgia’s U.S.-trained army was routed by Russia in the five-day war in August 2008 over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia. Russia later recognized South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia, as independent countries in the face of criticism from the U.S. and many European countries. Russia has deployed 1,700 soldiers in both regions.

Georgia Monitors

Obama defended Georgia’s territorial integrity during a visit to Moscow in July.

Clinton said monitors should be permanently deployed in Georgia to prevent further outbreaks of violence.

“We believe that it’s important to have a constant presence of observers and peacekeepers so that there’s no basis, no room, for something that would lead to further bloodshed,” Clinton said at Moscow State University.

Students at the university, founded in 1755, asked Clinton about U.S. priorities in Russia, differences over Georgia, what Clinton thought about the global economic crisis and what book had inspired her. With a nod to her audience, she selected Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov.

During her visit, Clinton repeatedly invoked the Obama administration’s effort to “reset” relations with Russia.

At a dedication of a statue of American poet Walt Whitman, sculpted by the same artist who created a statue of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, Clinton said: “Just as Pushkin and Whitman reset poetry, we are now resetting our relationship in the 21st century.”

From Moscow, Clinton flew to Kazan, capital of the oil-rich Tatarstan region. Clinton was greeted by women dressed in traditional costumes who presented her with a mound of chak- chak, a local dessert. She later met with regional leader Mintimer Shaimiyev and visited the province’s most famous mosque, Kul Sharif.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janine Zacharia in Kazan at jzacharia@bloomberg.net

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October 15, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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