George Bush criticizes Russia's "diminishing commitment" to democracy

President George W. Bush said Thursday that recent trends in Russia "regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment" to democratic freedoms and institutions.

"We will work to try to persuade the Russian Government to move forward, not backward, along freedom's path," Bush said in his National Security Strategy report, his plan for protecting America and directing U.S. relations with other nations.

Bush said that Russia has great influence not only in Europe and its own immediate neighborhood, but also in many other regions of vital U.S. interest: the broader Middle East , South and Central Asia , and East Asia .

"We must encourage Russia to respect the values of freedom and democracy at home and not to impede the cause of freedom and democracy in these regions," Bush said.

Bush's comments came as the United States was pressing both Russia and China in a high- stakes effort to sign on to a U.N. Security Council statement calling on Iran to halt uranium enrichment.

Bush said the strengthening of U.S.-Russian relations depends on the foreign and domestic policies that Russia adopts. The relationship cannot prosper if Russia attempts to prevent democratic development at home and abroad, he said, reports the AP.


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