President Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, says the United States and Russia may be about to shape what she calls "a fundamentally different relationship" in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks.
Ms. Rice says the common focus on terrorism is helping to recast relations between Washington and Moscow in a way that would have been unthinkable during the Cold War.
In a speech to the U.S. Russia Business Council here in Washington, Ms. Rice says Russia is evolving into an important part of the international coalition arrayed against terrorism:
"It may well be that some of the most important things that we will do is to share information, share intelligence, to cut off financial networks for terrorists," she said. "And these are things that we expect to cooperate broadly with the Russians."
Ms. Rice says Russian President Vladimir Putin's quick expression of sympathy and his offer to share intelligence in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks impressed the Bush Administration. She also described other welcome gestures from the Russian president, including his decision not to put his military forces on alert after the attacks and the cancellation of military exercises to avoid strains with the United States:
"And I fundamentally believe that there is a chance for a strategic relationship with Russia, one that is more appropriate to our relationship with Russia than our relationship with the Soviet Union and we will continue to work it," she said.
Despite the encouraging words, Ms. Rice also acknowledged that key differences remain between the two countries, including disagreements over a proposed U.S. missile defense system, Russia's campaign in Chechnya and Russian arms sales to Iran.