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Button gaffe embarrasses Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presents Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a mock reset button
Mr Lavrov was not taken with the state department's Russian language skills

Russian media have been poking fun at the US secretary of state over a translation error on a gift she presented to her Russian counterpart.

Hillary Clinton gave Sergei Lavrov a mock "reset" button, symbolising US hopes to mend frayed ties with Moscow.

But he said the word the Americans chose, "peregruzka", meant "overloaded" or "overcharged", rather than "reset".

Daily newspaper Kommersant declared on its front page: "Sergei Lavrov and Hillary Clinton push the wrong button."

Relations between Washington and Moscow have cooled in recent years over Russia's role in the war in Georgia, US support for the entry of Georgia and Ukraine to Nato, and the planned US missile shield based in central Europe.

'Was it right?'

Efforts to heal the rift got off to an awkward start on Friday as the two sides met in Geneva, when Mrs Clinton presented Foreign Minister Lavrov with a green box tied in green ribbon.


You got it wrong

Sergei Lavrov
Russian foreign minister

As reporters watched, the US secretary of state assured her Russian opposite number her staff had "worked hard" to ensure it was accurate.

"Was it right?" she inquired with a smile.

"You got it wrong," Mr Lavrov responded, also smiling, before pointing out the mistake.

Despite the embarrassment, the two made light of the moment in front of the cameras and pushed the button together to signify a shared hope for better relations.

At a joint news conference after two hours of talks, both joked about the error.

"We reached an agreement on how 'reset' is spelled in both Russian and English - we have no differences between us any more," Mr Lavrov said through an interpreter.

Mrs Clinton put it this way: "The minister corrected our word choice. But in a way, the word that was on the button turns out to be also true.

"We are resetting, and because we are resetting, the minister and I have an 'overload' of work."

The gift was a light-hearted reference to US Vice-President Joe Biden's recent remark that the new US administration wanted to reset ties with Russia after years of friction.



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