On Sept. 6, Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush had a talk over the phone. The main topic of conversation was Iraq. The presidents agreed to jointly seek the unconditional return of inspectors to Iraq in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions mandating Iraq's disarmament.
Since then, Russia has firmly adhered to this agreement. Even though Russia did not deem it necessary to pass another Security Council resolution regarding inspections in Iraq, it nevertheless took a step toward Washington and helped pass, unanimously, Resolution 1441. Russia seeks Iraq's full cooperation and the meeting of all demands made by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Russia's position, which is shared by most members of the Security Council and by other states, allowed the establishment of a reliable mechanism of inspections that would be able to help disarm Iraq. Because of this pressure from the international community, disarmament is underway.
In this context, the idea of an imminent war against Iraq does not appear to be valid. Moreover, war involves serious risks to all nations. In speaking out for a political solution to the Iraq situation, Russia is striving not only to overcome this particular crisis but also to push for continued joint efforts to solve other international problems that are no less acute.
Does Russia's stance conflict with the interests of the United States, as those who seek to drive a wedge into Russian-American relations are trying to claim? Of course not.
The presidents of our countries have had more than one phone conversation over the Iraq problem. The current scope of our relationship, which is marked by growing mutual trust and the spirit of cooperation, includes an open and honest dialogue over the most complex issues. If we believe that the war against Iraq will lead to harsh consequences, shouldn't we talk about it openly with our partners in Washington? If we propose to eliminate the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction -- working together with the United States and other countries and using political means -- is that not true partnership?
The value of partners and allies is not that they automatically agree with one another but that they search together for solutions to solve problems in common interests. We have irreversibly abandoned the Cold War formula: The worse things are for the United States, the better for us. We are convinced that striving for a political solution to the Iraqi crisis is in the best interests of Russia, the United States and the rest of the world.
Regardless of what happens with Iraq, Russia hopes that Moscow and Washington will allow their actions to be guided by the spirit of Russian-American cooperation, which is defined in the joint declaration signed in May by Presidents Putin and Bush in Moscow.
The writer is foreign minister of Russia.