Last weekend President Bush’s National Security Advisor Condoleesa Rice visited Moscow.
The remarkable thing about this visit is that both Russia and the USA gave little information about it. Ms. Rice met President Putin and handed him the letter from US President Bush, met Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov (she was discussing the issue of economic ties between the two countries), Head of President Administration Dmitry Medvedev and Secretary of Russian Security Council Igor Ivanov (who deals with the same issues Ms. Rice does).
Before Ms. Rice’s visited, press-department of US Embassy in Russia reported that she had traditional for Russian-American relations agenda for discussion: fighting terrorism, settling regional conflicts, the situation in the Middle East. But this time all the above mentioned issues were overlapped by the main problem: stabilization of situation in Iraq. This issue became the main theme of the negotiations.
The main intrigue is about the possibility of adopting new resolution on Iraq by the UN Security Council. Washington is interested in adopting the resolution legitimizing handing power in the country to Iraqi government and deploying UN peace-keepers in Iraq, as soon as possible. Many countries (for example, India and Pakistan) refused to send their troops in Iraq without the UN approval. Adopting the resolution would drop this obstacle, although the countries opposing the war in Iraq, are hardly going to change their outlook. At least, deploying troops in the area will look more legitimate.
Russia does not oppose handing the power to Iraqi government. However, Moscow says that all the power should be handed, with no constraints from occupying administration and the coalition forces command. Recently Russian authorities put forward the idea to arrange an international conference on Iraq for discussing the issue of the power in the country, along with its economic and humanitarian problems. Russia and many other countries dislike the fact that Washington did not even discuss the candidates for the future Iraqi government.
The US administration was not enthusiastic about Russia’s idea of having international conference. Washington is short of time, there is only 1.5 month until handing the power to Iraqis, and for this reason Washington is not interested in having long discussions about the future Iraqi government. Meanwhile, the USA wants the UN new resolution to be adopted as soon as possible – otherwise, the US policy in Iraq will be constantly criticized (one of the reasons is absence of the UN support).
Some experts say that Ms. Rice could discuss the idea of sending Russian peace-keeping troops in Iraq. However, for Russia deploying troops in Iraq would mean a crazy thing.
However, the USA seems to have no much need of having Russian peace-keepers in Iraq. Summing up her visit in Moscow, Condoleesa Rice said, “We have common outlook how we should come forward. The most important thing is to stabilize the situation in Iraq and adopt the UN resolution which will be prepared with Russia’s participation. Certainly, we have arguments. Russia disapproves our policy in Iraq, we objected against Russia’s policy in Chechnya, but our two countries have more things in common than the reasons for arguments”. From Moscow, Ms. Rice went to Berlin, probably to discuss the issue of Iraq there.
The two questions still have no answer: is there any plan after the power will be handed to Iraqis (if yes, why nobody heard of it). The second question – for what reason should the other countries solve George Bush’s problems?