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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kasyanov Tells Bush To Fight 'Real' Threat

WASHINGTON -- Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said Monday after meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush that the United States and Russia must work together to "identify dangers, real dangers rather than imaginary," that threaten the world's stability.

Kasyanov refused to say whether he and Bush had specifically discussed Bush's labeling of Iraq, Iran and North Korea last week as "an axis of evil."

But his comments made clear that Russia will not necessarily accept U.S. claims that Iraq, Iran and North Korea are on the verge of creating weapons of mass destruction and support terrorism.

"We discussed all those issues which are in the Russian-U.S. agenda ... strategic stability and dealing with different conflicts in the world," Kasyanov told reporters after the White House meeting.

"Of course we should identify dangers, real dangers rather than imaginary," Kasyanov said. "That's why we continue to work closely. Our defense people, our intelligence people exchange information and deal with those issues, so that we will be sure we correctly identify all problems."

Bush, leaving the White House, did not comment on the meeting.

Russia has supported the U.S. war in Afghanistan but could find itself in a difficult position if Washington decides to expand its anti-terror campaign. Moscow has strong ties to all three countries that Bush called an "axis of evil."

Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said last week that the United States will use its "new and budding relationship with Russia" to try to block Iraq's access to weapons technology.

But over the past week, senior Russian officials have said any unilateral U.S. moves to extend the anti-terror campaign beyond Afghanistan could jeopardize Russia's support.

At a security conference in Germany over the weekend, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov acknowledged that Iraq, Iran and North Korea might pose a threat to nonproliferation but said he had "no data or information that would suggest the governments of those three countries support terrorism."

Russia has long supported Iraq, backing Saddam Hussein's efforts to bring an end to UN sanctions imposed for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Russia is also Iraq's leading trading partner. Iraq owes Russia about $7 billion, and any new conflict between the United States and Iraq could jeopardize repayment.

But both Russia and the United States want smooth relations when Bush travels to Moscow in May for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Kasyanov said he and Bush also worked on the U.S. president's May 23-25 visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Kasyanov said the leaders were working on the outlines of a new strategic relationship, encompassing U.S. missile defense aims and mutual pledges to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles.

The aim, he said, was to produce an agreement "which will demonstrate to the whole world that the United States and Russia already are partners" and that the two countries are jointly implementing a broad agenda that goes well beyond cooperation against terrorism.

(AP, Reuters)