Friday 20 October 2017

Vladimir Putin hopeful of 'constructive' Russia-US dialogue

Cups depicting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump displayed for sale in St Petersburg, Russia (AP)
Cups depicting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump displayed for sale in St Petersburg, Russia (AP)

Russia is hoping for a constructive dialogue with new US President Donald Trump's administration, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin has said, but admit differences will remain.

Dmitry Peskov said it would be an "illusion" to expect US-Russian relations would be completely free of disagreements.

"Successful development of bilateral ties will depend on our ability to solve these differences through dialogue," Mr Peskov said.

He added that Russian President Mr Putin will call Mr Trump soon to congratulate him.

Mr Trump has promised to mend ties with Moscow badly strained over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the US elections, and his victory has elated Russian political elites.

Mr Peskov, however, pointed at the challenges posed by the intricacy of nuclear-arms control, the complexity of the situation in Syria and other issues.

While Russia supports prospective nuclear-arms cuts, they should be proportional and not upset the nuclear parity between Russia and the US, which "plays a critical role in ensuring global stability and security," Mr Peskov said.

He noted that different composition of Russian and US nuclear forces is a factor that needs to be carefully considered in negotiations.

Asked to comment on Mr Trump's recent interview with The Times newspaper in which he indicated he could end sanctions imposed on Russia in the aftermath of the 2014 annexation of Crimea in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal, Mr Peskov said the two issues are hard to link.

Mr Peskov emphasised the US role in settling the nearly six-year conflict in Syria, where Mr Trump has offered to pool efforts with Russia in fighting the Islamic State group.

"It's quite obvious that it's impossible to constructively solve the Syrian problem without the US participation," Mr Peskov said.

Russia has already invited Mr Trump's administration to attend talks between Syrian government and opposition groups in Kazakhstan on Monday.

Russia brokered the talks together with Turkey and Iran, but Tehran has opposed the US involvement in them.

"There are certain disagreements between Moscow and Tehran on this subject," Mr Peskov said, noting the Syrian issue "is too complex to have a full harmony in approaches".

''Any deals there are unlikely, there are too many parties involved," he added.

Turning to the Ukrainian crisis, which has driven Russia's relations with the west to post-Cold War lows, Mr Peskov criticised Barack Obama's administration for an "unconstructive" approach and voiced hope Mr Trump's administration would revise it.

AP

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