Russia's stance on Iraq finds understanding in the U.S. quarters where foreign policy is shaped, Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee at Russia's Federation Council, told a RIA Novosti correspondent.
Commenting on the results of his U.S. visit, during which he attended the conference on Russian-American relations sponsored by the Harriman Institute and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and conducted a number of bilateral meetings, Margelov described this understanding as "absolute." The Americans understand that for a number of reasons - first, because geographically we are neighbors; second, because of September 11, and because there was a meeting /between the Russian and U.S. presidents/ in Ljubljana - there is an absolutely new reality, which makes the present-day reality different from the 1991 situation," he said.
In Margelov's opinion, the number and quality of horizontal ties on the level of a business community, along cultural, humanitarian and inter-party lines, and parliamentary relations is such that their rupture is not in the interests either of the U.S. or Russia. "We should not hide the fact that we feel no warm feelings towards dictator Saddam Hussein, and nor did we like the way the decisions were taken to get rid of him," the head of the Foreign Relations Committee stressed.
"I felt attentive and cautious attitude on the U.S. part to a prospect that we, God forbid, may quarrel," Margelov said. "They try hard indeed to discuss with us the common points, some positive fields and themselves initiate this; they are prepared to suggest new mechanisms of discussion, and it is obvious that all this worries them." According to Margelov's estimates, "it is wrong to think that the Bush Administration is ready to discard all that had been achieved during the past two years." "They realize that at present we have a level of interdependence when, as former U.S. State Secretary Henry Kissinger used to say, we stand to gain from going side by side, feeling each other's elbows, not stepping on each other's feet." Margelov noted. "It is a task for us and for them to learn now to avoid stepping on each other's feet," he said.