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Moscow Bristles At Pence's Claim That Russia Is A Threat

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (file photo)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (file photo)

Russian officials have protested strongly against comments by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in which he mentioned Russia as a threat to global stability on a par with Iran.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on June 6 Moscow "regrets" the comments and called on the United States to "clarify its position."

"Obviously, President [Donald] Trump's position is the main thing that Moscow takes into consideration," Peskov said.

Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 5, Pence strongly reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO as "unwavering."

"A strong NATO is vitally important, especially in these trying times," Pence said. "From Russia's efforts to redraw international borders by force, to Iran's attempts to destabilize the Middle East, to the global menace of terrorism that can strike anywhere at any time, it seems that the world is more dangerous today than at any point since the fall of communism a quarter century ago."

Pence's comments come after some observers criticized Trump for insufficiently backing the alliance during a recent NATO summit in Brussels.

Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, said Pence's comments "sum up dozens and hundreds of anti-Russian speeches" that have been heard in the United States since Trump was elected last November.

Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, said Pence's remarks were "the pinnacle of absurdity," adding that Russia and Iran are only "dangerous to the [U.S.-dominated] unipolar world."

Earlier on June 6, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Donald Trump told him to "begin a reengagement process" aimed at rebuilding relations with Moscow, and not to let the turmoil in Washington over possible Russian ties to Trump's inner circle get in the way.

The FBI and the U.S. Congress are investigating the contacts between Russians and the Trump campaign and transition team, including a search for any signs of collusion by associates of Trump with what U.S. intelligence officials say were Russia's aims in the election.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS
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