Camp David (Maryland), Sept. 27 (Reuters): US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Iran today to give up any ambitions it might have of building nuclear weapons.
After talks at Camp David, Bush appeared to obtain Putin’s support for a slow transfer of Iraqi self-rule from US control in the face of demands from some nations such as France for a speedy transfer of sovereignty.
For his part, Putin said a negotiated settlement to end the nuclear standoff around North Korea should be accompanied by US security guarantees to the isolated Stalinist state, a step Bush has been reluctant to take.
The two leaders held talks last night and this morning at the presidential retreat and emerged to say they had set aside any differences they had over Iraq. Russia was a leading antiwar opponent in the bitter pre-war debate.
On Iraq, Bush is seeking a UN resolution creating a multinational force and outlining a path toward democracy.
US officials estimate it will take at least six months to write an Iraqi constitution, as some nations and the Iraqis themselves appeal for a speedier transition to self-rule.
Putin made no demand for an immediate transfer. “Russia is interested in seeing it occurring as soon as possible. At the same time we understand that this is a very complicated process that should be based on a solid legal and administration base and should go ahead stage-by-stage,” he said.
Moscow would await the outcome of the UN resolution to determine “the degree and extent and level of Russia’s participation” in Iraq’s reconstruction, Putin said.
They were united in their demand that Iran, which along with Iraq and North Korea was part of Bush’s “axis of evil,” give up any effort to acquiring nuclear weapons, which Iran has denied doing.
“We share a goal and that is to make sure Iran does not have a nuclear weapon,” said Bush.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, at Washington’s urging, has raised concerns about Iran’s nuclear aims and given Tehran until the end of October to dispel doubts that it is secretly developing nuclear arms.
“It is our conviction that we shall now give a clear but respectful signal to Iran about the necessity to continue and expand its cooperation with IAEA,” Putin said.
But he appeared to give no ground on Bush’s demand that he stop Russian assistance to Tehran’s nuclear programme. Russia has a $800 million contract to help Iran build what has been described as a civilian nuclear power plant.