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Putin Plays Down Differences With U.S.

U.S. President George W. Bush (left) with Russian President Vladimir Putin (file photo) (CTK) June 6, 2006 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin took steps today toward mending the recent rift in U.S.-Russian relations by touting the two countries' ability to compromise.

At his residence outside Moscow, Putin told former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that mutual understanding allows Russia and the United States to overcome their occasional differences of opinion.

Putin lauded the two countries' ability to find common ground.

"We are strengthening our cooperation in the international arena. Our views are not always the same, but on the whole we understand each other, which is most important, and find compromises. Our latest joint steps on the Iranian issue testify to that," Putin said.

Security Council

Last week, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany came to an agreement on incentives designed to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear program.

The United States supports sanctions against Iran through the Security Council, but Russia has been unwilling to support such a move.

But that standoff over Iran's nuclear program is just one of the issues that have hampered Russian-U.S. relations as Russia prepares to host the Group of Eight industrialized nations' (G8) summit next month.

In May, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney questioned Russia's dedication to democratic principles and accused it of using its oil and gas exports for political leverage.

Wary Russia

Russia, meanwhile, has in recent months accused the United States of trying to undermine its efforts to join the World Trade Organization. Moscow is also wary of NATO expansion and has accused the United States of having double standards over its criticism of Russia's human rights record.

Today, however, Putin said that the relationship between the United States and Russia is "changing for the better" -- noting their joint efforts in combating terrorism and cooperation in the energy sphere.

Kissinger, who served as secretary of state and national security adviser in the administration of President Richard Nixon, was not representing the United States in an official capacity.

He expressed U.S. leaders' appreciation for Russia's efforts toward finding a solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

(compiled from agency reports)

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