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Saying "God bless America and Russia," Russian President Boris Yeltsin called Wednesday on a joint session of Congress to help form a partnership between the two countries to ensure world peace and democracy.

"History is giving us a chance to fulfill President Wilson's dream, namely to make the world safe for democracy," Yeltsin said.He also announced that Russia is not waiting for ratification of an arms-control treaty that he and President Bush announced Tuesday to begin destroying nuclear missiles.

"We have begun deactivating the heavy SS-18 missiles targeted on the United States," he said.

Most of his speech - the first ever by a Russian or Soviet leader to a joint session of Congress - talked of his vision of new world peace and pledged that the new Russia will change its ways.

"Partnership and friendship of our two largest democracies in strengthening democracy is indeed a great goal," Yeltsin said, amid shouts of "Boris, Boris," by members of Congress as he arrived.

Asking for U.S. aid, Yeltsin said, "Russia has seen for itself that any delay in strengthening freedom and democracy can throw society far back."

Yeltsin added, "It was precisely in a devastated country with an economy in near paralysis that Bolshevism succeeded in building a totalitarian regime."

Economic and political reforms are needed in Russia to ensure history is not allowed to repeat itself, Yeltsin said.

"The world can sigh in relief - the idol of communism which spread social strife, enmity and unparalleled brutality everywhere, which instilled fear in humanity has collapsed. It has collapsed never to rise again," Yeltsin said.

Yeltsin described the accomplishments of Russia in working toward democracy, success that is the accomplishment of both the people of Russian and American citizens.

Russia has granted powers to its autonomous republics, Yeltsin said.

Russia launched the initiative calling for reduction in the strategic nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States from 12,000 to 3,000.

He added that Russia has resolved to be truthful, unlike the former Soviet Union.

"We are firmly resolved not to lie anymore either to our negotiating partners, nor to the Russian or American or any other people," he said.

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"There will be no more lies. The same applies to biological weapon experiments and the facts that have been revealed about American POWs, the KAL-007 flight and many other things."

He also invited U.S. investment in the untapped Russian market - "and don't be too late," Yeltsin said.

He also said Russian attempts to rid itself of the totalitarianism was not easy.

"We have come to know that learning to use the benefits of freedom is not easy . . . it does not offer instant prosperity or happiness and wealth to everyone," Yeltsin said.

Russia's intentions will inevitably be abandoned if they are not translated into jobs, Yeltsin said.

Russia must carry through reforms in their economy, lay the foundations for democracy and restore rule of law and guarantee social and political stability in the country, Yeltsin said.

However, Russia does not want to change the world in its own image, Yeltsin said.

"It is the fundamental principle of the new Russia to be generous and to share experience, moral values and emotional warmth rather than to impose and coerce. It is the tradition of the Russian people to repay kindness with kindness," Yeltsin said.