Putin Seeks to Safeguard Positive U.S. Ties, Aide Ushakov Says

President Vladimir Putin wants to safeguard the closer ties achieved with the U.S. under Dmitry Medvedev and predicts progress in talks on a planned missile shield in Europe after the November U.S. election, Putin’s foreign policy aide said.

“We don’t want to lose the positive ties that developed between Obama and Medvedev in recent years,” Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Moscow today. Putin plans a “full-fledged” meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at June’s Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, he said.

Russia’s relations with the U.S. showed strains as Putin began his third term as president this month. The two countries have locked horns over missile defense, the future of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Putin has accused foreign powers of financing the biggest anti-government protests in a decade to destabilize Russia, saying that U.S. criticism of a December election emboldened the opposition.

“There may be a certain impulse in the talks on that topic after the American election,” Ushakov said, referring to negotiations over a U.S.-led missile-defense system in Europe. “Our position is well known, and work on the expert and bureaucratic level is continuing. Although as you know, the pre-election campaign may not be the best time” to make progress on sensitive security discussions, he said.

Putin and Obama are both seeking to develop ties between their countries, Ushakov said. Putin is very interested in reducing obstacles to obtaining visas and eventually moving toward a visa-free regime, he said.

The Russian leader also wants to boost trade and investment to help secure progress in other areas of bilateral interest, according to Ushakov.

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