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Obama to tell Putin: Time to move past Cold War

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MziziMkavu, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

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    [​IMG] Play Video AP – AP Interview: Obama on foreign relations

    [​IMG] AP – President Barack Obama gestures during his interview with The Associated Press, Thursday, July 2, 2009, …

    By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent – 18 mins ago
    WASHINGTON – Days from his first Moscow summit, President Barack Obama declared Thursday that former Russian President Vladimir Putin "still has a lot of sway" in his nation and needs an in-person reminder the Cold War is over.
    On next week's trip, Obama will meet not only with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev but with Putin, the prime minister who hand-picked Medvedev as his successor. Said Obama: "I think that it's important that even as we move forward with President Medvedev that Putin understand that the old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russian relations is outdated. ... Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new."
    In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Obama also:
    • Said he could see abandoning his own proposal to indefinitely hold some terror detainees _"it gives me great pause" — and said he would not be comfortable ordering such a disposition for Guantanamo Bay prisoners without congressional action.
    • In light of recent Supreme Court cases dealing with highly charged questions about the nation's racial progress, said the high court was "moving the ball" away from affirmative action but noted the justices had not foreclosed the continued use of racial preferences in hiring and college admissions, which he said he supports in some circumstances. In any case he said affirmative action is neither the panacea — nor the problem — that it's often made out to be.
    • With most experts in agreement that there's a good chance Iran could have a usable nuclear bomb sometime during his presidency, he said, "I'm not reconciled with that."
    Asked about Michael Jackson's death, an event that has transfixed many, Obama said he didn't see any controversy in the fact that he did not issue a formal public statement about the pop star and knew of no dissatisfaction among blacks about that. He said, "I know a lot of people in the black community and I haven't heard that."
    He called Jackson a brilliant performer — "I still have all his stuff on my iPod" — whose talents were paired with a tragic, sad personal life. "I'm glad to see that he is being remembered primarily for the great joy that he brought to a lot of people through his extraordinary gifts as an entertainer," Obama said.
    The 24-minute interview, with Obama nearly six months into his job and approval ratings still high, ranged from the serious to the silly.
    Asked to let Americans in on a secret about White House life, the president chose the pastry chef and rued that "the best pie I have ever tasted" is a challenge to the first couple's self-discipline and waistlines. Asked to choose between basketball greats Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, Obama — a committed hoops player and fan of Jordan's Chicago Bulls — didn't pause for even a second. "Michael," he said, picking the retired superstar. "I haven't seen anybody match up with Jordan yet."
    Scheduled to depart Sunday for a trip to Russia, an international summit in Italy and his first trip to Africa as president, Obama praised Moscow for its cooperation in international efforts to persuade North Korea and Iran to abandon their nuclear development programs. After North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test in May, the United Nations approved "the most robust sanction regime that we've ever seen with respect to North Korea," he said.
    He expressed optimism he could get international agreement for even tougher action if North Korea persists in defying demands that it dismantle its nuclear weapons and stop production. The U.N. sanctions, for instance, did not include one thing the U.S. wanted: allowing the use of military force to board and inspect ships suspected of carrying banned weapons.
    "In international diplomacy, people tend to want to go in stages," Obama said. "There potentially is room for more later."
    The main agenda item for Obama and Russian President Medvedev in Moscow is to advance talks on a new strategic arms reduction treaty to replace one that expires in December.
    In addition to sitting down with Medvedev, Obama also is meeting with Putin, the former president who now is prime minister but still a major force.
    "I think that it's important that even as we move forward with President Medvedev that Putin understand that the old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russian relations is outdated — that's it's time to move forward in a different direction," Obama said.
    He said Medvedev understands that, but Putin needs convincing that the U.S. wants cooperation rather than "an antagonistic relationship."
    On Afghanistan, Obama said he intends to reassess the possible need for additional U.S. troops after the nation holds national elections in August, but that he believes America's key goals can be met there "without us increasing our troop levels."
    He has ordered 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan this summer, bringing the U.S. total to 68,000. He spoke on a day when 4,000 of those newly arrived Marines stormed through southern Afghanistan and when news surfaced that an American soldier who disappeared after walking off his base in eastern Afghanistan was believed captured.
    Obama outlined his benchmarks for making any new decision about troops there: whether al-Qaida and other terrorist groups can set up safe havens in Afghanistan, whether the Afghan national army and police can secure the country without assistance, and whether the border with Pakistan can be made less porous.
    "We can't tolerate a situation in which terrorist organizations act with impunity," he said.
    Minutes before his vice president, Joe Biden, landed in Iraq for a two-day visit, Obama said he was confident — but not certain — that the timetables for removing U.S. troops from that war will hold. This week marked a major milestone in the war when U.S. troops pulled out of major Iraqi cities.
    "I reserve the right to make changes based on changing circumstances to protect U.S. security," he said.
    As for Guantanamo detainees, the former constitutional law teacher expressed doubts about his call to create a new legal framework to deal with terror suspects considered too dangerous to release but also impossible to prosecute, a potential major change in American jurisprudence.
    "We're going to proceed very carefully on this front, and it may turn out that after looking at all the dimensions of this that I don't feel comfortable with the proposals," Obama said. "We don't have a tradition of detaining people without trial."
    He added: "How we deal with those situations is going to be one of the biggest challenges of my administration."
    Obama predicted that "a sizable number of" the suspected terrorists and foreign fighters now being held without charges at the prison in Cuba would get their day in court, either in civilian federal courts or military tribunals.
    With prospects for congressional approval of "prolonged detention" murky, there has been talk that the White House might simply declare changes to be in effect.
    "I am not comfortable with doing something this significant through executive order," Obama said.
    The president spoke sympathetically at one point of the white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., who said they had been discriminated against and won their case this week before the Supreme Court.
    He added that both the damage and benefits of affirmative action are overstated, saying that racial preferences in hiring or admissions could become "an afterthought" if problems such as malnutrition, poverty and substandard schools could be eliminated, creating a more level playing field among whites and minorities.
    "I've always believed that affirmative action was less of an issue, or should be less of an issue, than it's made out to be," Obama said.
    With joblessness rising, the president said he was "deeply concerned" that too many families are worried about "whether they will be next."
    New government figures out Thursday showed the unemployment rate grew to 9.5 percent last month, and economists agree it is likely to rise into the double digits. Since Obama signed the $780 billion economic stimulus bill in February, the economy has shed more than 2 million jobs.
    "What we are still seeing is too many jobs lost," said Obama.

    Obama to tell Putin: Time to move past Cold War - Yahoo! News