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Russian President Urges Common Sense In U.S. Ties

Dmitry Medvedev
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia and the United States can repair ties damaged by the conflict in Georgia if they put common sense before Cold War thinking, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said.

Striking a conciliatory tone after sharp exchanges with the West over Georgia, Medvedev told the incoming U.S. ambassador at a Kremlin ceremony that constructive ties with Washington remained a foreign-policy priority for Moscow.

"Relations with the United States remain a priority area in Russia's foreign policy and to a large extent shape the general atmosphere in the world," Medvedev said.

"The history of Russian-U.S. relations has seen a lot of tense situations. But in the end, common sense, pragmatism and taking into account each other's interests always triumphed," he said.

Medvedev was speaking at a ceremony in which he received the diplomatic credentials of new U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle and other incoming envoys.

"Despite a number of fundamentally different approaches to certain international issues, we are convinced we have every opportunity to build up constructive relations on a long-term basis.

"To fritter away our achievements by reviving the stereotypes of past years would be politically short-sighted," Medvedev said.

Moscow's ties with Washington, strained by NATO's eastward expansion and a planned U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe, have been badly shaken by last month's brief war between Russia and its small Caucasus neighbor Georgia.

Russian troops moved deep into Georgia -- a U.S. ally and NATO aspirant -- in a major counterattack triggered by Georgia's offensive against its pro-Moscow rebel region of South Ossetia.

Washington condemned Russia's actions in Georgia as disproportionate. It sent military ships to deliver humanitarian aid there and allotted $1 billion in financial aid to Tbilisi.

Moscow accused the United States of providing weapons and training Georgia's army for the "aggression" and then angered Washington further by recognizing South Ossetia and another Georgian rebel region, Abkhazia, as independent states.