Secretary of State Colin Powell is seeking to ease Russian concerns about U.S. interest in stationing military forces in some former Warsaw Pact countries in Eastern Europe, saying the United States has no plans to encircle Russia.
Mr. Powell said the United States may want to open some small, temporary military facilities in Eastern Europe, in order to provide U.S. forces easy access to potential conflicts in Central Asia, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.
He did not provide specifics on where the United States might be considering placing the bases during his live interview on Russia's Echo Moscow radio. But Secretary Powell said it would be a mistake if Russians perceived the plans as directed against their interests.
Secretary Powell also stressed that, according to the plans, the actual number of U.S. troops stationed throughout Europe would decrease from a high of more than 300,000 before the Soviet Union's collapse to under 100,000 in the future.
Russian media have widely reported that U.S. bases will be established in Georgia. But Secretary Powell said the United States plans no permanent military presence in Georgia.