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White House: Spy Arrests Will Not Harm US-Russian Ties

The White House says the arrests of 11 people in an alleged Russian spy ring is not a setback to improved U.S.-Russian relations.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that President Barack Obama knew about the alleged spy ring before he hosted Russian President Dmitri Medvedev last week.

But Gibbs said Mr. Obama did not raise the issue during their talks.

Gibbs said Moscow and Washington have made great progress in the last year-and-a-half resetting relations, and will keep working together on such issues as Iran and North Korea.

In Moscow, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin - meeting with former U.S. President Bill Clinton - said he also believes the scandal will not hurt ties with the United States. He said he hopes that the people who value these relations understand this.

U.S. authorities arrested 10 alleged Russian agents Sunday. Police on Cyprus arrested an 11 suspect Tuesday.

The alleged agents have been accused of gathering information for Russian intelligence on U.S. nuclear weapons, foreign policy and politics while quietly living and working in the United States.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says the suspects did not commit any actions against U.S. interests.

But U.S. prosecutors say an intercepted and decoded secret message describes the mission as a "long-term service trip."

The message allegedly tells the Russians that everything they have in the United States, including bank accounts, cars and houses, are to serve one goal - searching and developing ties in policymaking circles and sending intelligence reports back to Moscow.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.