US, Russian groups meet to mend ties

By RIA Novosti

Novo-Ogaryovo (Russia) : A panel of Russian and US dignitaries, including former US secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger, gathered at the presidential residence near Moscow behind closed doors in a bid to repair shattered US-Russian ties.

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The panel called “Russia-USA: A Look Into the Future,” was led by Kissinger and former Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov.

“We discussed many issues. Our goal was not to get media coverage, score public relations points, or press home any propaganda messages. We came here to solve problems,” Primakov said.

“We agreed to hold the next meeting in mid-December in Washington, D.C.,” where the panellists will meet with President George W. Bush, he added.

Kissinger thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his hospitality and praised the Russian leader for his realistic and open approach.

“We appreciate the time that President Putin gave us and the frank manner in which he explained his point of view,” he said.

When asked whether US unilateral interventionism was on the agenda, Kissinger said that “nuclear proliferation” and “nuclear threats,” rather than US policies, are the biggest danger to world peace.

“I do not think that [US] expansion is a problem of the period. The problem of the period is how to avoid nuclear conflict and in this case we believe that Russia and America should have common objectives.”

Addressing the panel’s first meeting, Putin thanked its participants for their quick response to the idea to set up such a high-level group, first aired during his April meeting with Kissinger and Primakov, and urged them to keep the debate as close to the ground as possible.

“We cannot afford having a Russia-US relationship that depends on the current political situation inside both our countries. We cannot allow our relationship to serve such narrow issues, as, for example, election campaigns in Russia or the US,” Putin said.

Apart from Kissinger, the US team includes former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and former Special Representative for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr.

The Russian team includes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former Ambassador to the US Yuly Vorontsov.