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Gates Responds to Putin Remarks

Washington Post | February 11, 2007  
Thomas E. Ricks

Defense Secretary Robert Gates used both humor and pointed remarks Sunday to parry the sharply anti-American speech given here the day before by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"One Cold War was quite enough," Gates told the audience of about 200 defense and foreign ministers and other officials from about two dozen countries.

Alluding to the fact that both he and Putin are former intelligence officials, he said, "I guess old spies have a habit of blunt speaking." But, he added, "I've been to re-education camp" -- an allusion to the four years he spent as the president of Texas A&M University, before becoming the Pentagon chief.

Gates, defense secretary for just two months, also noted that he has accepted an invitation from the government of Russia to visit that country.

On Saturday at the annual international security conference, Putin harshly criticized the United States, saying that Washington's unilateral, militaristic approach had made the world a more dangerous place than at any time during the Cold War.

Gates devoted most of his remarks at the security conference to urging NATO members to contribute to fighting Taliban rebels in Afghanistan.

"It is vitally important that the success Afghanistan has achieved not be allowed to slip away through neglect or lack of political will or resolve," Gates said, according to the Associated Press.

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