Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell have discussed major issues of Russian-U.S. relations and topical international problems, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told a press conference on Monday, following Powell's negotiations in Moscow. Ivanov said "both parties have made proposals for strengthening and building up the positive tendency" in bilateral relations. Apart from strategic stability and ABM issues, Putin and Powell discussed coordination of efforts to combat international terrorism, the foreign minister said. In this context, they considered joint diplomatic efforts within the U.N. framework to settle the situation in Afghanistan and provide economic aid to that country. Another important issue discussed during the negotiations was the situation in the Balkans, which "worries Russia and the United States very much," Ivanov said. Noting that Russia and the U.S.A. are co-sponsors of the Middle East settlement, the Russian foreign minister emphasised that both countries will continue making every effort to help overcome the crisis in the region. Putin and Powell exchanged views on the development of the partnership between Russia and NATO, Ivanov went on. He pointed out that a recent meeting in Brussels reiterated the need to work out mechanisms to "develop the form of our interaction" and proceed to decision-making on some issues in the "NATO at 20" format. Colin Powell said, in turn, that this was his first visit to Moscow as a Secretary of State. He said it came as another brick in the foundation of good relations, which has been built for 11 months between presidents Vladimir Putin and George Bush. Powell emphasised that the U.S. Administration is satisfied with the state of Russian-U.S. relations. Noting that after the September 11 tragic events these relations have become closer, he expressed conviction that there are good chances to cement them in the months to come.
Since the likes of the traditional Inauguration Day in the national Capitol are likely never to be witnessed again, take this opportunity from one who has been there to relate some truth about the experience