US President George W Bush has been speaking about post-war Iraq, his relationship with President Vladimir Putin and other issues on Russia TV. Following are excerpts of the interview conducted by Sergey Brilev.
On Syria and Iran
Bush says his partnership with Putin is based on trust
Sergey Brilev: How seriously should we take press reports that the Americans' next target is Iran and that US armed forces are planning to use bases in former Soviet republics, like Azerbaijan?
President Bush: No, no, no. We heard reports that we're planning to use military force in Syria and now someone's talking about military force in Iran. Force here, force there: all these reports are pure speculation. And we used military force in Iraq only after a long, long period of diplomacy...
The point was that I tried all diplomatic means to reach a joint decision on what to do with Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. People like to speculate about our military intentions but to that I'd simply say that there are no grounds for such speculation.
On Iraq's reconstruction
Sergey Brilev: After the war in Iraq, discussions about the role of the Americans have taken a new turn. Is the US a natural leader or a self-proclaimed leader? Is it imposing that leadership?
President Bush: The natural leader... will emerge when the Iraqis elect their own leadership. The Iraqi people are perfectly capable of electing a leader.
There's a lot to be done here, to create the conditions for the political process to run smoothly. And above all to improve people's lives. Above all I mean food and water, electricity, water supplies. And life is improving in many parts of Iraq. It's more complex in Baghdad.
This is a country that has been enslaved for years by Saddam Hussein. We're finding mass graves. He tortured and killed people to stay in power. And it's no surprise that in the 70 or 80 days we've been there democracy hasn't arrived immediately.
It's going to take a while to provide security in Baghdad. But life is getting better and that's what's important.
On relations with President Putin
Sergey Brilev: I remember that when you were going to Russia for the first time you said you were reading Dostoyevsky. Now that you've read Dostoyevsky and met Putin, will you be trying anything new in Russia, a new political initiative or something new to eat?
President Bush: I think the most important thing that'll come out of this meeting with Vladimir Putin is that the world will see that, even though we had our differences on Iraq, we really do want to co-operate for the good of all countries and to achieve world peace.
Secondly, an official strategic dialogue will be established. At the moment that's happening between Vladimir and myself. Now, it will be between our personnel and various parts of the authorities so that Russians and Americans realise that we are working in harmony and using the chances we have in common to solve problems before they become urgent.
Sergey Brilev: Now that you've got to know our literature and our politicians and have been to St Petersburg several times, do you think you understand Russia better than before? What's your impression of Russia?
President Bush: I used to think that we'd establish a relationship of trust with one another and then the other members of our administrations would have greater trust in one another. Trust is an important concept.
I'll never forget the first question I was asked after meeting Putin in Slovenia. "Do you trust Vladimir Putin?" I said, "Yes." I was asked why and I said: "I have looked him in the eye and seen his soul." We'd just finished a very long conversation.
We talked about family matters, our personal lives. I realised that Vladimir is a genuine person. He's someone I can trust. That doesn't mean we agree on everything. It means we have a common platform, the basis for relations between our governments to develop.
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