Talks on U.S.-Russia security disagreements under way in Moscow

Russian Security Council Secretary, Igor Ivanov, has met U.S. National Security Advisor, Steve  Hadley, at the Kremlin in Moscow to discuss relations between Russia and the U.S.A.

Mr Ivanov said that disagreements with Washington on security matters will be solved through dialogue.

He pointed out that Moscow's relations with Washington are one of the priorities in Russia's foreign policy and are developing well on the whole.

Russia and the U.S. have a long history of co-operation. According to Igor Ivanov, both countries have a common interest in fighting international terrorism; they have similar views on nuclear issues and weapons of mass destruction. But there are still other political and economic problems that have to be resolved.

“We are satisfied with the statements made by the chairman of the U.S. Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Lantos on the Jackson-Vanik amendment. We are glad that Washington is considering abolishing this amendment. If it happens, in our opinion it will be an important signal for further strengthening of our ties,” said Igor Ivanov.

The 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment links U.S. trade benefits, known as Normal Trade Relations, to the emigration and human rights policies of Communist or former Communist countries. The amendment has been lifted for many of Russia's former Communist allies, but still remains in force for Russia.

Another issue on the agenda during the talks in Moscow is the decision of the U.S. to build its missile defence facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.  These plans were criticised by Russian officials, who say the systems may be used not only against Iranian and North Korean missiles, but also against Russia. Top Russian military commanders immediately said that Russia may target the U.S. facilities if they are stationed in close proximity to Russian borders.

The Bush administration has already reacted to this rhetoric. The United States is trying to convince Moscow that the new facilities will not be used against Russia.

Many analysts say that although Russia and the U.S. are partners on certain issues, disagreements in geopolitical, and especially military issues, are still possible.

“We still have a situation of mutually assured deterrence, which we inherited from the cold war, and statements like we now hear from the U.S. and the deployment of bases in Europe is something that Russian generals are not going to accept,” says Andrey Kortunov, the president of the New Eurasia Foundation.

Nevertheless, Stephen Hadley may try to explain the U.S. position to Russia during his Moscow visit.

Peter Lavelle, Russia Today's political commentator, said today's meeting of the Russian and U.S. security officials will be a major step forward in settling security disagreements between the two countries. He expressed the hope that Hadley`s visit to Moscow would be “really breaching out”.

“We need a little bit of conciliation, we had a lot of tough words over the last few months. Particularly in the Munich speech, I call it the Munich thesis from Mr Putin. I think all of the differences have been highlighted, very much on both sides. Now let's step back and find out what we have in common,” said Peter Lavelle.

What is needed is to talk more about problems that divide Russia and the U.S. “instead of throwing rocks at each other,” stressed the RT political commentator.

Among other issues to be discussed during Mr Hadley's visit will be Iran, North Korea, Middle East  and bilateral relations, believes Peter Lavelle.