MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that it was impossible for Russia to resume it Cold War rivalry with the United States.

“We are not adversaries. We are partners in many areas of international activities,” he said in an interview broadcast by the U.S. broadcaster Fox News.

But Putin reiterated his opposition to a U.S.-European push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for consideration of sanctions over its nuclear program. He also said the United States should pull its troops out of Iraq within two years.

Putin was in New York last week for the U.N. world summit and talks with President Bush.

He gave the taped interview Friday but it was not broadcast until Sunday. A transcript of the interview was posted on the Kremlin’s Web site.

On the sensitive subject of Iran, where Russia is building an atomic power plant despite U.S. concerns that Iran may be trying to build nuclear weapons, Putin rejected calls to have the International Atomic Energy Agency seek sanctions against the Tehran regime.

“Today, the Iranian side is working sufficiently in cooperation with the IAEA and (IAEA chief Mohamed) ElBaradei has told us so. So, let’s proceed from today’s realities,” Putin said.

Putin, whose government fiercely opposed the war to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, said the U.S.-led coalition’s military presence in Iraq is fueling the insurgency and urged that a deadline be fixed for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

“In our opinion, the fact of their presence there pushes the armed opposition to perpetrate acts of violence,” Putin said.

The Russian president acknowledged that fledgling Iraqi security forces need time before they can take over from U.S.-led forces but said a timetable for a pullout is essential to “make everybody move in the right direction.”

“I believe it should be within just over a year, or within two years, something like that. It will all depend on the situation in that country,” he said.

Putin also used the Fox interview to warn against trying to lecture Russia on democracy.

“I am convinced that democracy cannot be exported from one country to another. Just as you cannot export revolution, you cannot export ideology. We’re not prepared to listen to teaching or tutoring. That is inadmissible,” he said.

Putin is often criticized in the West for rolling back democratic freedoms by imposing state control of national broadcasters and scrapping elections for regional governors.

He repeated his pledge not to change the Russian constitution to allow him to run for a third consecutive term in the 2008 election.

“Under no circumstances am I prepared to change the constitution,” Putin said.

Putin began the interview by offering condolences over Hurricane Katrina. “We sincerely grieve with the American people regarding all those victims,” he said.

AP-ES-09-18-05 1747EDT


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