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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush Addresses NATO and Russian President Putin

Aired May 28, 2002 - 05:02   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Russia will have a say on many, but not all, NATO decisions, as the alliance welcomes Moscow.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is traveling with President Bush in Rome and has a live update for us now -- Kelly, an historic event? Another one for President Bush.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, another historic event, as you noted, this coming just days after President Bush and Russian President Putin signing that landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty. Now this event, the leaders sitting around a table, the 19 members of NATO along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is speaking at this time.

The leaders gathered at an air force base just about 30 miles outside Rome.

What this will mean is the alliance created years ago to defeat the former Soviet Union now stepping in and having more cooperation with the West. Russia will get a seat at the table, as Mr. Putin has right now, weighing in on discussions on issues ranging from dealing with counter-terrorism to dealing with the spread of weapons, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Carol, this will not be formal membership, as you said, for Russia. But it does give, again, Russia a seat at the table. It can weigh in on some decisions.

Really, all sides hailing this as a new relationship between Russia and the West. But, Carol, it's also an important time for NATO because before President Bush gathered there with the other leaders, he was meeting with NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. And the president spoke to reporters. He said NATO must modernize. It must modernize its capabilities to deal with new threats.

He wants to see European allies spending much more money on defense. He wants them also, in his words, to spend wisely. Lord Robertson also saying that the Europeans must do more and spend more and spend more wisely.

So an important moment here between relations between the West and Russia, but also really an important moment for NATO and how it moves on from here -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I wanted to ask you about the security, because it is amazingly tight there in Rome. Can you tell us about that, Kelly?

WALLACE: Absolutely. This is, I believe, the first leaders meeting of NATO since the September 11 attacks so obviously security very, very intense, I believe something in the range of 15,000 -- let's go to President Bush, Carol. I believe he just came up and is speaking now.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Secretary General, thank you for your leadership.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your grand hospitality. It's -- you've been a great host.

And I want to welcome our friend, President Vladimir Putin, to this table, and all my NATO colleagues.

Today marks an historic achievement for a great alliance and a great European nation. Two former foes are now joined as partners, overcoming 50 years of division and a decade of uncertainty. And 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.

NATO was born over a half a century ago as an alliance committed to defending democracy and advancing freedom. Today we renew our commitment to these important goals.

And as we reach out to a new Russia that is building freedom in its own land and is already joining us in defending freedom against a common enemy, we do so in the spirit of peace and friendship.

The attacks of the September the 11th made clear that the new dangers of our age threaten all nations, including Russia. The months since have made clear that by working together against these threats we multiply our effectiveness.

The NATO-Russia Council gives us the opportunity to move forward together on common challenges and to begin building ties that can be expanded far into the future.

We will start with areas where our ability to help one another as equal partners is unmistakable -- areas such as countering terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, emergency planning and search-and-rescue operations at sea.

We will improve our coordination in places where we are already working together, such as the Balkans. NATO, Russia and our other partners can take great pride in the greater peace and stability we have brought to that region.

We will also look ahead to other areas where we can expand our cooperation, such as missile defense and airspace control that can strengthen the security of all of Europe.

Nothing we do will subtract from NATO's core mission. We will be practical, moving forward step by step. And as our trust and track record of success grows, so will the breadth and depth of our work together.

The NATO-Russia Council offers Russia a path toward forming an alliance with the alliance. It offers all our nations a way to strengthen our common security, and it offers the world the prospect of a more hopeful century.

Thank you very much.

LORD ROBERTSON, NATO SECY. GEN.: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

WALLACE: There U.S. President Bush addressing the other members of NATO, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying two former foes joined as partners, hailing this, again, as an historic moment. Russia joining the alliance that was once set up to defeat the former Soviet Union.

Another very important point here, the president saying the new dangers threaten all nations, including Russia. That was really a signature theme for Mr. Bush during this trip, that the threats of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction not only threaten the U.S., but threaten European allies and Russia, as well, and that is why this coalition must stand together very strong.

And, Carol, one other thing to mention to you, the president will wrap up his European tour with a visit with Pope John Paul II a little bit later. This will be Mr. Bush's second visit with the pope as president. And it's very interesting, Mr. Bush was asked a little bit earlier if he would raise the controversy, the sexual abuse allegations involving U.S. priests, with the pope. And the president said he would, he would say that he is concerned about the Catholic Church.

He believes it's an important institution, needs to be strong, and he will raise it, the issue, in that way during his meeting with the pope -- Carol, back to you.

COSTELLO: It'll be interesting to see what the pope has to say.

Thank you.

Kelly Wallace reporting live for us from Rome.

WALLACE: Sure.

COSTELLO: President Bush sounded tired and a little jet lagged, but as Kelly said, he'll be home soon, after meeting with the people in Rome.

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