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Rice Upbeat after Talks with Russian Officials


National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has held what she called "very good" talks with Russian foreign and defense officials in Moscow. The talks are aimed at repairing ties strained by the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

During her one-day visit to the Russian capital, Ms. Rice met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, and the head of Russia's Security Council Vladimir Rushailo.

She made no public comment following any of the closed-door meetings, other than to characterize the talks as productive. A U.S. embassy spokesman said Ms. Rice was in Moscow looking for ways to advance relations between the United States and Russia after a particularly rough few weeks, which have seen bitter exchanges over the war in Iraq.

The United States has accused Russian companies of supplying banned military equipment to Iraq, a charge Moscow denies. Moscow has also officially called in the U.S. Ambassador to Russia to protest U.S.-led air attacks on Baghdad, which it said came dangerously close to the Russian embassy.

Since then, officials on both sides have shown signs of trying to ease the tension in more conciliatory remarks. According to the Kremlin press service, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush spoke during the weekend and again stressed the need to continue the two countries' political dialogue, despite differences over the war.

Ms. Rice arrived in Moscow Sunday, the same day a Russian convoy carrying Russia's ambassador to Iraq came under fire while leaving Baghdad for Syria. At least four Russian officials were wounded in the attack. After an overnight pause to treat the injured, the convoy traveled into Syria.

Russian officials say they are awaiting clarification on whether U.S.-led or Iraqi forces were to blame for Sunday's attack. The U.S. Central Command says there were no American forces in the area where the incident occurred. The United States has promised a full investigation.