The KGB would like to exchange information with the CIA on Iraq but has not made the offer directly because past proposals for cooperation have been rebuffed, the spy agency's chief has told The Associated Press.
"I am convinced that we could really tell each other something valuable, especially about ensuring the security of Soviet and American citizens" in the Persian Gulf region, KGB chairman Vladimir A. Kryuchkov said in an interview.If the CIA wants help, "You can be sure that our reaction would be positive," Kryuchov told the visiting AP board of directors and executives on Wednesday.
He said his agency also is willing to work with U.S. intelligence in fighting international terrorism and narcotics trafficking.
Kryuchkov sat beneath a portrait of Soviet founder Vladimir I. Lenin. Beside the KGB chief was a vase of bright flowers that contrasted with the stark decor of the wood-paneled conference room on the third floor of the Lubyanka, the gray, pink and yellow KGB headquarters in downtown Moscow.
On his left hung a portrait of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police.
He joked with the group about the fear the KGB and the Lubyanka inspired but said in serious tones that the agency was leaving behind that "tragic page" of history.
In meetings with American officials, Kryuchkov said, "we always give signals about being ready to work together in this or that field" with U.S. intelligence.
"The signals reach the right address," he said, but the answer is always something along the lines of, "We are not ready yet."
It was not clear precisely what sort of information the Soviets might be willing to offer the United States. Most Iraqi military equipment is Soviet-made, and providing intelligence on how to defeat that equipment in battle might undermine the effectiveness of the Soviet military in any possible confrontation with the United States.
Moreover, Kryuchkov acknowledged, the Kremlin is concerned about possible Iraqi actions against the approximate 5,000 Soviets who remain in that country.