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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 21:49 GMT 22:49 UK
Bush hails Nato-Russia pact
World leaders at the Rome summit
The summit was heavily guarded
US President George W Bush has hailed the signing of a partnership deal between Nato and Russia, saying the two former foes had now become partners.

He said it was an "historic achievement" that would help establish peace and freedom across Europe.

Agreement signed by 20 leaders
The agreement is being hailed as an historic milestone
The deal signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of 19 Nato countries, establishes a new Nato-Russia council giving Moscow an equal voice on a range of issues such as counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and arms control.

The summit took place at an airbase south of Rome protected by missiles, fighter planes and warships standing offshore.

"Two former foes are now joined as partners, overcoming 50 years of division and a decade of uncertainty," Mr Bush told the summit.

'New threats'

"This partnership takes us closer to an even larger goal - a Europe that is whole, free and at peace for the first time in history."

He warned that after the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington, the world faced a new type of danger.

"We must make clear that by working together against this threat we multiply our effectiveness," he said.

"We will be practical, moving forward step by step and as our trust and our track record of success grows so will the breadth and depth of our work together."

President Putin said that Russia and Nato had more to unite them than to divide them.

Nato logo
Nato-Russia Council
  • Replaces the Permanent Joint Council set up in 1997
  • Will meet every month, with four ministerial level meetings a year
  • Areas covered: fight against terrorism, halting weapons proliferation, and theatre missile defence
  • Russian diplomats to move into Nato HQ in Brussels

    Click here to read about Russia's new role

  • He said his country's new relationship with the Alliance was "only the beginning".

    "I remember, more than half a century ago, humankind paying tens of millions of lives for the short-sightedness of politicians in the face of a common threat. Now we have a task which is comparable in historical scope," he said.

    Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson said it was impossible to overstate the importance of the meeting.

    He said the 11 September attacks had "brought a message to the leaders of the democratic world: 'Find solutions and find them together.'

    "There is a common enemy out there, the man and woman in the street... knows it and feels and they expect us to address it," he told the 20 leaders.

    Suspicions remain

    However despite the warm words, the BBC's Washington correspondent, Nick Bryant, says Washington continues to voice loud concerns over Russia's ties with Iran, particularly over the sale of nuclear technology.

    The Russians also harbour doubts over Nato plans to expand the alliance into territories formerly under the control of the Soviet Union.

    The Nato-Russia summit - and a later meeting with Pope John Paul at the Vatican - concluded Mr Bush's tour of Europe during which he visited Germany, Russia, France and Italy.

    The centrepiece was the signing of a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty in Moscow, which cuts US and Russian atomic arsenals by two-thirds.

    He left for the United States on Tuesday afternoon.

    On Monday, he marked American Memorial Day with a visit to the beaches of the D-Day landings of World War II in northern France.

    The BBC's James Robbins in Rome
    "Doubters point out Nato has played only a minor role in the war on terror"
    US President George W Bush
    "It offers the world a prospect of more hopeful century"
    Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson
    "We'll be judged on what we get out of the summit"

    Talking PointTALKING POINT
    A new role for old enemies?
    See also:

    28 May 02 | Europe
    28 May 02 | Europe
    14 May 02 | In Depth
    27 May 02 | Europe
    15 May 02 | Country profiles
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