The United States and Russia are now "on the same page" regarding the future of Iraq despite past disputes, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said after consultations on a new U.N. resolution guiding the transfer of limited authority to an Iraqi government this summer.
Rice met with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend to discuss the next stage in the Iraq occupation and solicit cooperation in fashioning a new Security Council resolution conferring legitimacy on an interim government after June 30. Although she proposed no specific language and won no public commitments, she pronounced herself satisfied with the talks.
"We and Russia are, so to speak, on the same page now about how we move forward," Rice said in an interview with the "Namedni" news program on Russia's NTV television, which aired Sunday night. "No matter how we got into Iraq and disagreements we might have had in the past, everybody agrees that the most important thing now is to have a stable Iraq, to move forward with a resolution at the United Nations Security Council."
During the discussions, Russian officials pushed a proposal to convene a special international conference on Iraq as a means to give the transfer of political power in Baghdad more credibility. Rice agreed to consider the idea but did not commit to it, U.S. officials said afterward.
In addition to Putin, Rice met individually with the newly appointed prime minister, Mikhail Fradkov; the presidential chief of staff, Dmitri Medvedev; and the national security adviser, Igor Ivanov. She also had dinner with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. After leaving Moscow, Rice flew to Berlin on Sunday for meetings with top officials from several European allies.
During the talks here, Rice said she also urged Russia to guarantee democratic reforms and seek a political solution to the war in Chechnya. "It's important that democratic institutions take hold here in Russia," she told NTV, a softer version of the more pointed critique of Russia's growing authoritarianism offered by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell during his last visit here.