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    US RECOGNIZES RUSSIA'S INTERESTS IN FSU, ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL SAYS

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    WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Arkady Orlov) - The Administration of George W. Bush is willing to cooperate with Russia in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Asian Affairs, said Thursday.

    Speaking at hearings in the House International Relations Committee, Ms. Jones said the United States recognized the fact that Russia may have its legitimate interests in Eurasia, ones relying on the geography, the economy, and the history of the region.

    The US is friends both with the Russians and with their neighbors, and has no intention to contend with Russia for spheres of influence in the Former Soviet Union, the Assistant State Secretary emphasized. The Americans will look for ways to work together with Russia toward solving some of the problems in that region, but they also expect Russia to show due respect for the sovereignty and independence of the nations that used to be part of the Soviet Union. According to Ms. Jones, the Russians have been a little bit too "pushy" toward those nations of late. She said the US was specifically concerned over Russia's recent attempts to pressure on Georgia via the leaderships of breakaway Georgian autonomies, its biased mediation in the Transdniester conflict, and its overdramatization of Latvia's school reform.

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