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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
US, Russia 'to moderate rhetoric'
Russian President Vladimir Putin (15 May)
Recent tensions have been characterised by tough statements
Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have agreed to tone down the rhetoric in public exchanges.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two sides had resolved to focus on "concrete business".

However, it appeared the two failed to settle their differences with Mr Putin restating his opposition to US plans to extend a defence system into Europe.

Ms Rice countered, saying the US would not allow Russia to veto the move.

Russia sees the proposal as unnecessary or even a potential threat to its security. The Kremlin also opposes US backing for the independence of Serbia's province of Kosovo.

The high-level talks in Moscow are the first since Mr Putin accused the US in February of seeking global dominance.

Following the meeting, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "[Mr Putin] supported the understanding by the American side that rhetoric in public exchanges should be toned down and we should focus on concrete business, which there is a lot of."

The BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow says Russia and the United States seem to have defined their differences but the divisions appear to remain.

'Positive talks'

The talks took place at Mr Putin's Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, aimed at easing bilateral tensions ahead of Mr Putin's meeting next month with President George W Bush.

US missile defence graphic

The US was seeking to reassure Russia about the plans to extend the US missile defence shield in eastern Europe.

The US wants 10 interceptor rockets on Polish soil to destroy any long-range ballistic missiles fired at the US from the Middle East.

Warsaw has indicated it will back the plan if it improves Poland's security. The US also wants a radar base in the Czech Republic.

Indepence for Kosovo has also been a divisive issue.

The UN Security Council is expected to vote soon on the plan granting Kosovo independence under international supervision.

In a BBC interview a senior Russian official confirmed that Moscow would back Serbia's position on the issue which could mean veto-ing the UN resolution.

Following her arrival in Russia on Monday, she dismissed talk of a new Cold War.

"It is not an easy time in the relationship, but it is also not, I think, a time in which cataclysmic things are affecting the relationship or catastrophic things are happening in the relationship," she said.

German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier was also in Moscow for emergency talks on Tuesday in an effort to prevent the cancellation of a Russia-EU summit planned for Friday.


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