(Prague, Czech Republic--February 21, 2008) Three U.S. lawmakers -- Senator John Kyl (R-Arizona), Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-California) and Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-California) -- spoke about U.S. goals and relations with Russia, the Middle East, Central Asia and other countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region during a roundtable today at RFE/RL's broadcast center in Prague.
Kyl criticized the Russian position on Kosovo independence. He said "Putin has not been very helpful even where there is a convergence of interests with the United States." In a separate interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, which broadcasts to Iran, Kyl stressed that U.S. sponsored economic sanctions against Iran are not aimed at the people of Iran but are designed to get the Iranian leadership to change its position on developing nuclear weapons and on promoting terrorism.
Congresswoman Harman noted that U.S. policy in the Middle East is regional rather than narrowly focused on Iran and Iraq. She said that from a regional perspective, Iran is far more dangerous than Iraq. Harman expressed her regret that the recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran had been widely misunderstood to mean that Iran no longer represents a threat. She stressed that Iran remained dangerous, as the nuclear program could be restored at any time. She called for a more effective international economic sanctions regime as the best way to persuade the Iranian government to make their nuclear activities transparent, and called on the European partners to do more on that front. Harman also noted that the U.S. has a lot more work to do in Afghanistan.
The U.S. congressional group was on a one-day visit to Prague. In addition to their conversations at RFE/RL, the delegation met with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and top Czech government officials for talks on bilateral issues, including plans to locate a U.S. missile defense base in the Czech Republic.