Da Kommersant del 18/10/2006
Originale su http://www.kommersant.com/p714050/Rice_Tour_Moscow/

Condoleezza Rice to Stretch her Tour to Moscow

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice set out for an Asian tour including Japan, China, and South Korea. It is said the purpose of the visit is to strengthen pressure on North Korea. However, Korean issue is not the only point of the tour. It is not by accident that Moscow was included into the program at the last moment, on US initiative.

di Sergey Strokan

US Department of State named only Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul at first. Only on Monday morning did sources in Washington say that US side suggested holding urgent talks with Russia. Thus, Condoleezza Rice will meet with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov.

Rice confirmed the information right away: “I set off for Japan, China, South Korea, and Russia. In each of these countries, I will promote our diplomatic efforts to put into practice UN Security Council’s resolution #1718 about sanctions against North Korea, about opposing threats to peace and stability, and about hampering the ambitious aspirations of some states to develop massive destruction weapons.”

Rice’s talks to Moscow will be a big bargaining around UN Security Council’s resolution on Iran. Permanent representative of Russia in the UN Vitaly Churkin sharply criticized US sanctions against Rosoboronexport and Sukhoy companies. Churkin demanded that the U.S. lift the sanctions right away. He said Moscow’s stand on Iran directly depends on lifting sanctions against those Russian companies.

Yet, Iran will be the main but not the only issue in US-Russia talks. Washington suggested holding another Bush-Putin meeting either before or after the NATO summit in Riga in November. Personal meetings between the 2 presidents are the chief means of easing the tense atmosphere of US-Russia relations.

The idea to send Rice to Moscow appeared in Washington right after UN Security Council adopted resolution #1716 on Georgia and #1718 on North Korea. It became possible to ratify these resolutions due to mutual concessions of Moscow and Washington. The U.S. agreed to ratify a somewhat altered project of Russia’s resolution on Georgia, while Russia supported the softened project of US resolution on North Korea. Thus, Washington might have concluded that Moscow is back on sound realism track, and decided to take advantage of the moment sending Rice to Russia.

Meanwhile, if Iran is Rice’s chief interest in Moscow, the North Korean issue will predominate in her North-Eastern Asia trip. Rice will push for creating the regime of maximum isolation of North Korea by means of carrying out UN Security Council’s resolution #1718. The resolution imposes embargo on supplying materials used for production of ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons, heavy arms and military machines (tanks, ships, jets), allows to freeze the accounts of North Korean individuals or organizations found guilty of financing programs for developing nuclear weapons or means for its transportation, and permits to search all cargo delivered to or from North Korea.

However, these are 2 different things--to ratify a resolution and to carry it out. US representative in the UN John Bolton said yesterday that now a lot will depend on whether Asian leaders are ready to take coordinated steps to isolate North Korea. US expects cooperation from China—the only country to preserve relations with North Korea.

Diplomatic sources say that Asian countries, China first of all, are not ready to trigger the sanctions mechanism. Thus, Condoleezza Rice is to bargain as toughly as in Moscow.

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