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Putin, Rice agree to tone down rhetoric, turn to real issues - Lavrov

RIA Novosti

15/05/2007 18:57 NOVO-OGARYOVO (Moscow Region), May 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president and the U.S. state secretary agreed Tuesday to "tone down rhetoric" in public debate and focus on real issues, the Russian foreign minister said.

"The president supported the American side's understanding of the necessity to tone down rhetoric in public polemics and focus on specific issues and there are plenty of them," Sergei Lavrov said.

Vladimir Putin met with Condoleezza Rice at the presidential residence near Moscow. A number of issues, including a proposed U.S. missile shield in Europe, independence for Kosovo, and an alleged clampdown on democracy in Russia, have recently soured bilateral relations.

Lavrov said the Russian leader reiterated Moscow's stance on U.S. plans to deploy missile defense elements in the Czech Republic and Poland. Putin "confirmed Russia's position on missile defense," the minister told journalists.

Moscow has condemned the plan, dismissing the official U.S. explanation that it needs a missile defense system to counter possible attacks from Iran and North Korea as ungrounded.

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said in April that there were no grounds to talk about possible Russia-U.S. cooperation in strategic missile defense. "We believe this system - strategic missile defense - is, to put it mildly, of a somewhat fanciful nature," he said.

Lavrov also said that Putin and Rice had found no common ground on the issue of Kosovo but agreed to look for a mutually satisfactory solution. "They discussed Kosovo and agreed to look for solutions that could satisfy all parties involved, although such solutions are not visible at the moment," he said.

A draft UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo calling for the independence of Yugoslavia's breakaway province was submitted by France, the U.K., Germany and the United States. Russia is categorically opposed to the plan.

Lavrov also said Putin and Rice did not want Russia and the U.S. to become hostages of election campaigns in the two countries, where presidential polls are scheduled for next year.


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