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Russia Willing to Expand Cooperation With US - 2003-05-22

Following a difficult few months of disagreement over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and a little more than one-week before meeting his American counterpart in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin says his government is willing to expand its cooperation with the United States.

In a letter to Mr. Bush, President Vladimir Putin said Russia is interested in expanding cooperation with the United States in all directions.

Mr. Putin said there are more issues uniting the two nations, than differences dividing them. But he did not clarify which areas of cooperation he would like to see expanded.

The Kremlin press service reports that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov delivered the letter late Wednesday to President Bush in Washington.

According to the Kremlin, the letter also said that a strategic Russian-American partnership benefits the international community by way of bolstering global security and stability.

Russia and the United States had seen their bilateral relationship flourish in the weeks and months after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, as Russia was one of the first nations to sign on to the U.S.-led global coalition against terrorism.

But the relationship soured amid Russia's strong opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and officials in both nations have been working since to see that it gets back on-track.

In a move welcomed by the United States, Russia signaled its readiness Wednesday to support a U.S.-backed Security Council resolution on Iraq that would lift 13 years of U.N. sanctions imposed on that nation after it invaded Kuwait.

Russia welcomed the return of the Iraq issue to the United Nations, which is a mechanism Russia has long argued should play a central role in resolving global problems, including Iraq's post-war reconstruction.