US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian President
Vladimir Putin agreed yesterday that the rhetoric in US-Russian
relations should be toned down, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Rice met Putin at the president's Novo-Ogaryovo residence
outside Moscow to discuss growing rifts between Moscow and
Washington ahead of Putin's meeting next month with President
George W. Bush.
"(Putin) supported the understanding by the American side that
rhetoric in public exchanges should be toned down and we should
focus on concrete issues," ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Lavrov as
saying after the talks between Putin and Rice.
Ties have been soured by Russia's opposition to US plans to
deploy parts of a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, and by
Moscow's reluctance to support a US-backed plan to grant effective
independence to the Serbian province of Kosovo.
Rice, who arrived in Moscow on Monday, dismissed talk of a new
Cold War despite unease in Washington about Putin's criticism of US
foreign policy. But the disputes, which have driven relations to
the lowest point in years, are likely to come up when Putin meets
Bush on the fringes of the Group of Eight summit in Germany next
A brief Kremlin statement gave no details of the meeting.
Novo-Ogaryovo is normally chosen as a venue to stress the informal
nature of talks.
Several top Russian officials indicated ahead of Rice's visit
that Russia wanted good relations with Washington but would not
compromise on missile defense or Kosovo. Russia says it does not
see a threat that requires a missile shield in Europe, and argues
that to force its ally Serbia to give up Kosovo sets a bad
Kosovo's fate may also come up when German Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier meets Putin to discuss a growing list of
disputes involving Russia and new European Union members that were
once in the Soviet orbit.
An EU-Russia summit on Friday in the southern Russian town of
Samara may be clouded by disagreements over everything from
Russia's ban on Polish meat imports to its anger at Estonia's
removal of a Soviet monument from Tallinn city center.
Steinmeier conceded on Monday that it was unlikely Russia and
the EU would agree at the summit to start negotiations on an
ambitious new partnership pact, due to cover trade, energy, human
rights and foreign policy.
The presence of both German and US foreign ministers in Moscow
on the same day underlines Western concern about relations during a
period in which Putin has adopted a more confrontational stance
toward the US and Europe.
Rice is the third top US official to visit Moscow since Putin
made a speech in Munich in February in which he accused the US of
seeking to impose its will on the world.
"I don't like the rhetoric either," Rice said ahead of her
However, she said Washington and Moscow cooperated well in
trying to restrict the nuclear programs of Iran and the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea, and that their dealings were nothing
like the "implacable hostility" between the US and the Soviet
"I know people... throw around terms like 'new Cold War'," she
said. "The parallels... have no basis whatsoever."
(China Daily May 16, 2007)