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Lithuanian Russia ‘Reset’ Won’t Harm U.S. Ties, Butkevicius Says

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Lithuania’s desire to improve relations with neighboring Russia and Belarus doesn’t mean the Baltic nation plans to distance itself from Western allies such as the U.S., Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said.

“We have to keep relations as good as possible both with neighboring countries and with the U.S.,” Butkevicius, whose coalition government took office last month after October elections, told reporters today in the capital Vilnius.

He declined to say whether he agreed with Parliamentary Speaker Vydas Gedvilas, who last week criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s opposition to Russia’s growing economic might in Europe as unpractical. Speaking on Radio Svoboda in Moscow on Jan. 3, Gedvilas said the U.S. was “very far away” and had no gas pipeline that reached Lithuania.

The new Cabinet’s official policy program calls for a “reboot” of relations with Russia. Above all, it seeks to negotiate lower prices for the Russian natural gas and power that Lithuania relies on, according to Butkevicius.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryan Bradley in Vilnius at bbradley13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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