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Russian Minister Says U.S. Influence In Decline --> Sergei Lavrov (file photo) (Council of Europe) March 17, 2007 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Washington's influence in the world is in decline while Moscow's is rising.

Speaking today the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy -- a group of Russian defense and foreign policy experts -- Lavrov said Washington's "outsized" role in the world is "shrinking" as "new centers of power" are emerging.

Lavrov criticized what he called Washington's unilateral foreign policy and said Russia intends to use its newfound influence to counterbalance the United States.

Relations between the two countries have become strained, most recently over Washington's plans to deploy a missile-defense system in Europe.

Lavrov said U.S. plans to build the missile-defense shield in Europe harms Russia's relations with NATO.

Lavrov said despite tensions between Washington and Moscow, there are "no objective grounds" for "any kind of Cold War."

He stressed that Russia and the United States should continue to cooperate in the fight against international terrorism and in stopping nuclear proliferation.

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