Putin Sure Relations With US Will Progress Despite Differences

Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 9:07 am
By: News On 6

MOSCOW (AP) _ President Vladimir Putin, in a statement on Wednesday marking the Fourth of July, said he was certain relations between Russia and the United States would progress despite disagreements.

Tension between Washington and Moscow has been growing. The U.S. has accused Russia of backing away from democratic reforms, and the Kremlin vehemently objects to U.S. plans to deploy elements of a missile defense system in former Soviet Bloc countries.

``We look with certainty to the future of mutually satisfactory working together. I am sure that, despite known disagreements, which are unavoidable in an open and honest dialogue, the policy of comprehensive development of bilateral ties in all areas will continue,'' Putin said in the statement, released by the Kremlin while Putin was in Guatemala.

During a visit earlier this week to Maine, Putin and President Bush met in an effort to halt the deterioration in U.S.-Russian relations at a critical time. In a sign of some progress on that front, the two countries pledged Tuesday to reduce their stockpiles of long-range nuclear weapons ``to the lowest possible'' level.

Meanwhile, one of the leading contenders to succeed Putin in next year's presidential elections warned that Russia would base new missiles in western Russia if Washington continued with its plans to set up a missile defense system with components in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Putin offered a second proposal on Monday: modernize the capabilities of a Russian-operated radar in Azerbaijan, as well as link to the system a new radar facility being built in southern Russia. He also proposed making the shield more regional by bringing in NATO and setting up joint early warning missile launch centers.

``If the proposal is accepted, then Russia will not have need to base new rocket forces in the European part of Russia, in Kaliningrad, in order to parry the threats which will arise from the missile defense system,'' Sergei Ivanov, a first deputy prime minister and former defense minister, was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass on Wednesday.

``If our proposal is not accepted, we will take adequate measures. An asymmetrical and effective response will be found. We know that we will do this,'' Ivanov was quoted by Interfax as saying.