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The main presidential candidates, George Bush and John Kerry, have different attitudes to foreign policy, in particular Iraq
George Bush, who sanctioned the invasion of Iraq in 2003 contrary to the protests of the bulk of the international community, now calls for increasing the role of the UN, NATO and regional organisations in the post-war reconstruction of the country. He sees the creation of a new Iraqi army and law enforcement and security structures with US assistance as an earnest of future stability in that country and calls for preserving the US military presence there. John Kerry describes the Bush administration's decision to launch the Iraq war as a gross mistake but does not plan to withdraw US troops from the country; on the contrary, he plans to double the strength of special forces there but hopes that he would convince allies to increase their contribution to Iraqi security. The two candidates have similar stands on the issue of international terrorism. The war on terror is the main foreign policy slogan of George Bush, though he admitted in a televised interview that it might be impossible to root out this evil. He believes that the cooperation of terrorist organisations and rogue countries present special threat and advocates large military operations in the war on terror. John Kerry says that the US can and must defeat terrorism, links the war on international terror to the need to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict, suggests using sanctions against states guilty of assisting terrorists, and calls for creating a new agency to co-ordinate the counter-terror efforts of the CIA and the FBI. Kerry promises Americans to spotlight the search for the main terrorists, such as Osama bin Laden, and to preclude a leak of nuclear materials. Speaking about arms control, Bush describes the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by terrorists and rogue countries as the main threat to US national security. He launched the pre-emptive war in Iraq with the declared goal of liquidating its WMDs and signed an agreement with Russia on deeper strategic reductions. Bush supports research into the creation of novel types of nuclear weapons. Kerry calls for making the non-proliferation regime stricter and thinks that programmes concerning WMDs located in the former Soviet Union are not effective enough because they are badly financed. He is against the creation of novel types of nuclear weapons. Relations with Russia feature prominently in the policy statements of the two candidates. Bush praises Russia as a key partner in the counter-terrorism coalition. Though the roll back of democracy in Russia worries him, he keeps saying that he trusts President Putin and this trust allows the two leaders to discuss any disputed issues constructively. Kerry appears to be more concerned than Bush is over Russian democracy. He holds that Moscow should not just liquidate terrorists in Chechnya but also take economic measures to cut their financial channels and political measures to curtail their influence on the general public. The Iranian and North Korean nuclear issue is another major aspect of their election platforms. George Bush believes that Teheran is using its nuclear engineering research to create nuclear weapons. He accuses Iran of supporting international terrorist organisations and suggests introducing UN sanctions against it. John Kerry suggests delivering nuclear fuel to Teheran in return for its pledge to terminate nuclear projects and return nuclear fuel wastes to the provider country. Bush refuses to hold direct talks with Pyongyang (negotiations are held by a group of six - North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the US) and demands a full and verifiable curtailment of all nuclear programmes in North Korea, including in nuclear power engineering. Kerry promises to launch bilateral talks with North Korea on its nuclear programme and the entire range of bilateral issues, including the economy and human rights
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