Bush to Stress Peace to Putin

TIMES STAFF WRITER

President Bush said Friday that he intends to tell Russian President Vladimir V. Putin this afternoon that "the United States is no longer your enemy" and urge Russia to be "a partner in peace, a partner in democracy, a country that embraces freedom [and] a country that enhances the security of Europe."

"I also will stress that my vision of Europe includes Russia and that Russia should not fear the expansion of freedom-loving people to her borders," Bush said, alluding to his support for continued eastward enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Bush offered a preview of what will be his inaugural summit with the Russian leader as he made a state visit to Poland, a onetime Soviet satellite state, saying he hopes to engage Putin in a broad conversation about "a frame of mind and an attitude."

"A definition of the relationship will evolve over time. But first and foremost, it's got to start with the simple word 'friend,' " Bush said during a joint news conference here with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski after their own meeting.

Bush added that he will speak of "the need for capital to have open markets and rule of law, transparency in the economy."

"If Russia makes the right choices, she will attract a lot of capital, U.S. capital," the president said. "Russia has got enormous resources and great potential."

Bush and Putin's meeting is to take place in Ljubljana, the capital of neighboring Slovenia, in a 16th century castle that once served as the summer residence of the Soviet-era Yugoslav dictator, Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Bush will seek to transform decades of "the old nuclear balance of terror" into "a real political relationship," Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security advisor, said Friday.

"We do not believe that we are any longer, with Russia, in a relationship of being mutual hostages," she said.

A man who takes pride in his ability to disarm skeptics, Bush predicted that after his tete-a-tete with Putin, "I'll be able to say I've got a pretty good feel for the man and he's got a good feel for me, and he'll see that I'm the president of a peace-loving nation, a nation that wants Russia to succeed and to do well."

But the president said he intends to express his concern about "reports of proliferation" of weapons of mass destruction on Russia's southern border.

"I think it's important for Russia to hear that our nation is concerned about the spreading of weapons of mass destruction," Bush said at the news conference. He was responding to a journalist who cited a report that Moscow might have permitted a shipment to Iran of high-grade aluminum that could be used in the manufacture of enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons.

Bush said he would bring up that concern "in the context of explaining why it is important for us to think differently about missile defenses, to think differently about the Cold War doctrine that is codified in the ABM Treaty of 1972."

Throughout his trip to Europe this week, Bush has been touting his missile defense plan to many skeptical leaders. But Friday, the president claimed a fresh "receptivity to a new way of thinking" about his goal.

The president won some exuberant support from Kwasniewski, who told reporters that he found Bush's presentation "took away all those fears that were connected with his position."

In order to build an advanced missile defense system, Bush has said, the 1972 Antiballisitc Missile Treaty must be discarded as "a relic." The pact has been the cornerstone of arms control for decades, and many leaders fear that its demise would engender a new arms race.

In Poland, Bush's pre-summit stop was meant to celebrate the nation's metamorphosis from a Soviet satellite into a flourishing democracy now aspiring to membership in the European Union.

Here in the capital, the president delivered what White House aides described as his European tour's major address, in which he described his vision of a continent where "talk of East and West [is] behind us."

Bush told the faculty and students at Warsaw University, "Here, you have proven that communism need not be followed by chaos, that great oppression can end in true reconciliation and that the promise of freedom is stronger than the habit of fear."

After the speech, photographers could see tears welling in Bush's eyes, his cheek slightly aquiver. Also gripped by the moment was Rice, who wiped tears from her eyes at several moments.

In addition to commending Polish reforms, Bush announced a series of measures to further those reforms in the areas of security and markets.

He said he will seek congressional approval for a second frigate to enhance Poland's naval capabilities and approved the transfer of an additional $20 million for the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, which runs programs to promote democratic and market reforms in Poland.

The White House also said that next week, the U.S. and Poland will sign an "open skies" agreement that by 2004 will grant U.S. airlines access to all of Poland while Polish airlines will have access to the entire United States.

In his remarks about today's summit, Bush said he wants to share with Putin "a vision about Russia's role in the world and in Europe . . . [and] provide assurances to Russia that our country doesn't want to diminish the nation. We want to help elevate the nation."

Bush added: "First and foremost, it's to develop a trust between us. He doesn't know me, and I don't know him very well."

But Bush will not present specific proposals, according to Rice.

"This is an opportunity for the two presidents to get to know each other, to establish a personal relationship, for the president to sketch out his broad vision of how he'd like to see U.S.-Russian relations go but not to make specific proposals to the Russians," the national security aide said.

"The president is respectful of the fact that it's the Russians who have to make these choices," Rice said. "This is consultation, after all, not an American fiat."

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