Rice plays down Russian naval exercises in Caribbean

Other News Materials 27 November 2008 00:21 (UTC +04:00)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed suggestions Wednesday that Russian naval exercises in the Caribbean Sea posed a threat to the US military hegemony in the Western Hemispherem, dpa reported.

"I just don't think there's any question about who has the preponderance of power in the Western Hemisphere," Rice said.

Two Russian warships, a destroyer and a cruiser along with support vessels, arrived in Venezuela on Tuesday to carry out joint naval exercises next week. They are the first Russian naval activities in the Western Hemisphere since the end of the Cold War.

The Russian presence has been seen as a response to closer ties the United States and NATO have sought with former Soviet states, as well as US plans to deploy a missile-defence system to Poland and the Czech Republic.

Rice, however, said military activities in the region should not support Venezuela's adoption of destabilizing policies with surrounding countries and US allies like Colombia.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has defied the United States by pursuing closer relations with Russia and US foes Iran, North Korea and Cuba. Washington has also objected to Russian military sales to Venezuela.

The United States said it will closely monitor the exercises.

The arrival of the Russian ships coincides Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Venezuela, where he will meet with Chavez on Thursday. The naval maneuvers that begin Monday and involve inspections, rescue and resupply operations.