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Key US, Russian Officials in 'Candid' Talks in Washington

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met their Russian counterparts Friday to try to repair some of the damage over strained relations between the two nations.

U.S. officials say the tone of the meetings was "positive and constructive," however the senior officials did not shy away from candid comments about the two countries' rocky relationship.

Speaking at the State Department, Kerry said the U.S.-Russia relationship is marked by both shared interests and at times, "colliding and conflicting interests."

"Now I think we're all very clear-eyed about that. Sergei Lavrov and I are old hockey players, and we both know that diplomacy, like hockey, can sometimes result in the occasional collision."

U.S. officials say Kerry reiterated disappointment in Russia's decision to grant asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who is wanted in the U.S. on espionage charges.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu showed their displeasure with U.S. President Barack Obama's recent cancellation of a planned summit next month with Russian President Vladmir Putin. However, Lavrov said that although ties are strained, there will be no return to the Cold War.

During a news conference Friday, Mr. Obama denied that he has poor relations with Mr. Putin. However, he said Mr. Putin can sometimes appear "like a bored kid in the back of the classroom."

The president said "Russia has not moved" on a whole range of issues and that the United States would like to see progress,

The White House cited several issues when it canceled next month's planned Moscow summit, including Russia's decision to grant asylum to Snowden, human rights concerns and Moscow's support for Syria's government.

Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, admitted leaking details of secret National Security Agency surveillance programs that gather information on telephone calls and Internet use. Snowden says U.S. citizens have the right to know their government is spying on them. The NSA says the programs stopped several terrorist plots.

Snowden fled to Hong Kong, then to Russia, to avoid prosecution.

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