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Question: Mr. Secretary, what is your view of the role and the actions of Russia during the current situation in Afghanistan and around Afghanistan?
Secretary Powell: I think Russia has played a very positive role since the events of the 11th of September. We are very pleased at the immediate support that President Putin gave to us. He was the first world leader to call Mr. Bush [after the terrorist attacks], and that meant a lot to the American people. The Russian people and the Russian government have been working very closely with us and with the international coalition to bring all the pressure to bear that we can against the terrorists of the September 11th incident, those who were responsible for the September 11th incident, and in the campaign against terrorism in general. Russia has suffered from terrorist acts and understands that this is a campaign that the whole of Russia should be aligned in.
Question: Could you tell us what disagreements exist in the approaches to the Afghan problem between Russia and the United States?
Secretary Powell: I don't know of any. Foreign Minister Ivanov and I speak several times a week on the issue. They have been very supportive of our efforts in the United Nations. We have coordinated very, very closely. We have coordinated as we tried to get the political process started in Bonn and both governments are supporting the interim administration that will be heading to Kabul shortly, and we have worked together as Russia sent in some of its units to reestablish your embassy and also to put into place a humanitarian operation, which is doing wonderful work. In all of that we have coordinated closely with each other.
Question: Mr. Powell, could you tell us if there were any changes and, if so, what changes have occurred in the attitude of the US administration toward the actions of the Russian government in Chechnya since September 11th?
Secretary Powell: We noted with great interest President Putin's speech several weeks after September 11th when he aligned himself in the campaign against terrorism and also spoke about his desires to reach a political settlement in Chechnya. We welcomed that statement on his side, his statement. We have said to our Russian colleagues that we understand that they have a situation, a problem they have to deal with. There are terrorists in Chechnya and we understand that, but they have to use restraint to try to find a political solution and be very, very considerate of human rights of people and make sure they look aggressively into any instances where human rights may have been violated in the prosecution of this crisis.
Question: Mr. Secretary, could you tell us how the current cases, the current events, in which the Russian government more and more often tries to suppress the media, specifically they are trying to do that to TV-6, this TV company that I represent. How would they affect the Russian-US relations?
Secretary Powell: I can't speak to the specifics of your station, either on the business side or the political side, but just let me say that we have always said to our Russian colleagues that an independent media is an essential component of a democratic system. The media must be free to gather information and must be free to criticize every element of the society. It can be very uncomfortable at times -- believe me I know -- but this is one of the essential features of democracy: a free and independent media that is a check on all elements of society. Our two presidents discussed this at every one of their meetings and after the Washington-Crawford meetings President Bush offered to send a group of media experts over to discuss these matters with the Russian government and the media people in Russia.
Question: And are you going to raise this issue during this current visit?
Secretary Powell: I always raise it in my discussions with Foreign Minister Ivanov and I'm sure it will come up in my discussions with President Putin.
Question: Thank you, Mister Secretary, for your [inaudible].
Secretary Powell: Thank you.
Question: We really appreciate this. Thank you.
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