Putin Hopes For Warmer U.S. Ties

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he expects the next U.S. administration to improve strained relations and urged Washington to remember that "mutual interests outweigh some disagreements" during global crises.

"This was so in World War I and World War II. We in Russia have never forgotten this. We would like our American partners to remember this as well," Putin said in an interview published Saturday in the French daily Le Figaro. A Russian transcript was posted on the government's web site.

"During [Abraham] Lincoln's time, a U.S. statesman who was secretary of state at the time said that we [Americans] prefer relations with Russia to relations with all other European countries if only because Russia always wishes us well," Putin said.

He said that though ages had passed since Lincoln's time, "when global crises have emerged in the world, Russia and the U.S. have always been together."

Putin seemed to concede that recent developments make any turn for the better unlikely at least until a new U.S. president is elected. But even then, any moves to improve relations will be up to Washington, Putin said. "They spoiled them, let them improve them," he said.

nPutin told Le Figaro that he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have agreed to train in martial arts together. "He [Sarkozy] is interested in martial arts, and we have decided to do some training together," said Putin, a judo expert. A press officer at Sarkozy's office had no immediate comment.