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Kremlin Hopes for Rapport With US      01/21 09:56

   MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman voiced hope for 
a constructive dialogue with President Donald Trump's administration in 
comments broadcast Saturday, but warned that differences will remain.

   Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with state Rossiya television that it 
would be an "illusion" to expect that U.S.-Russian relations would be 
completely free of disagreements.

   "Successful development of bilateral ties will depend on our ability to 
solve these differences through dialogue," Peskov said. He added that Putin 
will call Trump soon to congratulate him.

   Peskov's sober assessment contrasted with euphoria in Russian political and 
business elites, where many expect a quick thaw in relations with the U.S. A 
few clubs and bars sought to cash in on public excitement, hosting parties to 
mark Trump's inauguration.

   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 
U.S. elections, and his victory has elated Russian political elites.

   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 U.S., 
which "plays a critical role in ensuring global stability and security," Peskov 

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

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

   Peskov emphasized the U.S. role in settling the nearly six-year conflict in 
Syria, where 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 U.S. participation," he said.

   Russia already has invited Trump's administration to attend talks between 
Syrian government and opposition groups in Kazakhstan capital Monday. Russia 
brokered the talks together with Turkey and Iran, but Tehran has opposed the 
U.S. involvement in them.

   "There are certain disagreements between Moscow and Tehran on this subject," 
Peskov said, adding that 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 

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


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