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Powell, Putin Hail Bilateral Relations, Acknowledge Differences - 2004-01-26


US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian President Vladimir Putin have hailed relations between their countries, but acknowledged that disagreements exist.

Mr. Powell, who met with Mr. Putin at the Kremlin on Monday, said Washington is pleased with Moscow's level of cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He also said that he and Mr. Putin agreed on the importance of the United Nations being involved in Iraq.

Earlier, Mr. Powell met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

Also Monday, Mr. Powell said in a newspaper opinion piece that Washington is concerned over some aspects of Russian policy.

He wrote in Russia's Izvestiya daily that Russia's democratic system does not seem to have achieved what he called the "essential balance" among the government's executive, legislative and judicial branches.

He also said that Washington is concerned about certain aspects of Russia's policy in Chechnya and its treatment of neighboring former Soviet republics.

Mr. Powell also wrote that key aspects of Russian society -- including free media and political party development -- have not yet sustained an independent presence.

On Sunday, Mr. Powell said unanswered questions remain about reported Russian arms sales to Iraq before the US-led invasion.

Washington has also pressed Moscow to abide by a pledge to withdraw the last of its Soviet-era troops from bases in Georgia.

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