US, Russia agree to disagree


Summary

Recent harsh remarks have revived memories of the Cold War, capped by a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany, when he seemed to compare US foreign policy to that of the Third Reich.

After meeting Mr Putin at his residence, Ms Rice told reporters "the rhetoric is not helpful, it is disturbing to Americans who are trying to do our best to maintain an even relationship."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed, telling reporters Mr Putin had "supported the American side's understanding that it's necessary to tone down the rhetoric in public statements and concentrate on concrete business."

However, both said they failed to bridge many differences, including over US plans to put 10 missile interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic as part of a system to shield Europe from missile attack.

Russia has attacked the US plan, designed to counter potential aggressors, as a threat to its security.

While repeating the US offer to cooperate with Russia on the system, Ms Rice made clear that the US would build it over Russian objections if necessary.

"The United States needs to be able to move forward to use technology to defend itself and we're going to do that."

After the Rice-Putin talks, both sides said they wanted to work together to strengthen cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.

"We want to be real partners with the US and I hope that is mutual," Mr Lavrov told a joint news conference with Ms Rice.

Mr Lavrov acknowledged there was "no solution immediately in sight" to a disagreement over the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Russia, a long-time ally of Serbia, has hinted that it may veto a UN plan to grant Kosovo independence under EU supervision unless Serb concerns about the plan are addressed.

Ms Rice told Russian radio station Ekho Movsky the United States hoped to address Russian and Serbian concerns about Kosovo but added: "It's important now to recognise that Kosovo will never again be part of Serbia. It's not possible."

She also said Mr Lavrov had assured her President Putin's controversial speech last week had been misunderstood and that his reference to the Third Reich was allusion to "extremists" rather than to the US.

Russia and the United States hold presidential elections next year and Mr Lavrov said neither wanted relations to become "hostages of electoral cycles in both nations," according to a Kremlin pool report.

Business leaders fear the war of words could affect booming trade and investment between Russia and the West.

Russia faces a difficult summit with another big trade and investment partner, the European Union, on Friday.

Rows over Moscow's ban on Polish meat imports and its anger at Estonia's removal of a Soviet war memorial from the centre of its capital have clouded the atmosphere.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Moscow on
Tuesday for preparatory talks, has conceded it was unlikely that
Russia and the EU would agree at the summit to start negotiations on an ambitious new partnership pact covering trade, energy, human rights and foreign policy


Recent harsh remarks have revived memories of the Cold War, capped by a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany, when he seemed to compare US foreign policy to that of the Third Reich.

After meeting Mr Putin at his residence, Ms Rice told reporters "the rhetoric is not helpful, it is disturbing to Americans who are trying to do our best to maintain an even relationship."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed, telling reporters Mr Putin had "supported the American side's understanding that it's necessary to tone down the rhetoric in public statements and concentrate on concrete business."

However, both said they failed to bridge many differences, including over US plans to put 10 missile interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic as part of a system to shield Europe from missile attack.

Russia has attacked the US plan, designed to counter potential aggressors, as a threat to its security.

While repeating the US offer to cooperate with Russia on the system, Ms Rice made clear that the US would build it over Russian objections if necessary.

"The United States needs to be able to move forward to use technology to defend itself and we're going to do that."

After the Rice-Putin talks, both sides said they wanted to work together to strengthen cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.

"We want to be real partners with the US and I hope that is mutual," Mr Lavrov told a joint news conference with Ms Rice.

Mr Lavrov acknowledged there was "no solution immediately in sight" to a disagreement over the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Russia, a long-time ally of Serbia, has hinted that it may veto a UN plan to grant Kosovo independence under EU supervision unless Serb concerns about the plan are addressed.

Ms Rice told Russian radio station Ekho Movsky the United States hoped to address Russian and Serbian concerns about Kosovo but added: "It's important now to recognise that Kosovo will never again be part of Serbia. It's not possible."

She also said Mr Lavrov had assured her President Putin's controversial speech last week had been misunderstood and that his reference to the Third Reich was allusion to "extremists" rather than to the US.

Russia and the United States hold presidential elections next year and Mr Lavrov said neither wanted relations to become "hostages of electoral cycles in both nations," according to a Kremlin pool report.

Business leaders fear the war of words could affect booming trade and investment between Russia and the West.

Russia faces a difficult summit with another big trade and investment partner, the European Union, on Friday.

Rows over Moscow's ban on Polish meat imports and its anger at Estonia's removal of a Soviet war memorial from the centre of its capital have clouded the atmosphere.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Moscow on
Tuesday for preparatory talks, has conceded it was unlikely that
Russia and the EU would agree at the summit to start negotiations on an ambitious new partnership pact covering trade, energy, human rights and foreign policy