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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kissinger and Putin Meet to Mend Ties

APPresident Vladimir Putin greeting former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during a meeting at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Friday.
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Moscow Region -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other prominent Americans on Friday sought to repair damaged relations with Russia in talks at President Vladimir Putin's residence outside Moscow.

After lengthy discussions with Putin and a group of Russian foreign policy experts behind closed doors, Kissinger told reporters there was a "frank, cordial discussion on a whole number of important issues for both societies and the rest of the world."

"We appreciate the time President Putin gave us and the frank manner in which he explained his point of view," he said.

Although he provided no details of any progress in the talks, Kissinger said his group was leaving Russia with "warm, very positive feelings."

The leader of the Russian side, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, said they had discussed terrorism, climate change and economic issues, but he refused to provide details.

In recent months, Putin has accused Washington of seeking military, political and economic dominance of the world, and clashed with Washington over U.S. plans to install a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, among other issues.

Kissinger, who served as President Richard Nixon's secretary of state and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, has met Putin in Moscow several times in recent years.

This time, Kissinger brought along a bipartisan group of prominent Americans, including former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former Senator Sam Nunn, a leading advocate of nuclear nonproliferation.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy head of the U.S.A. and Canada Institute; and Mikhail Moiseyev, former armed forces chief of staff, were among the other Russians joining the talks.

Both sides have formed a new working group on U.S.-Russian relations, they said, and plan to meet again before the end of the year in Washington. Bush is expected to address them, Primakov said.

After Friday's talks, Primakov told reporters he could not disclose their substance.

"Don't ask us such questions, allow us to work if you don't want to disrupt the work of the group or force us to [reveal] some propaganda or critical exchanges about the other side," he said.

But he added that they had "considered very many questions," including politics, climate change and economic development.

Kissinger's group met with Putin one day after Kissinger met in Moscow with Primakov and Lavrov.

When Putin walked into the room at his palatial mansion on a wooded estate northwest of Moscow, he put his arm around Kissinger's shoulder. Kissinger turned, smiled and grabbed the president's hand.

In remarks before the session began, Putin said relations between the United States and Russia should be free of shifting political trends or political campaigns in both countries. Both the United States and Russia hold presidential elections next year.

"We can't afford to let the U.S.-Russian relationship be subservient to political fashion," Putin told the group.

After the discussions ended, Primakov and Kissinger met briefly with reporters.

Told by a reporter that many Russians believe the United States is bent on expanding its influence through military conquest, Kissinger responded: "I do not think that expansion is a problem of the period. The problem of the period is how to avoid nuclear conflict, and in this case we believe that Russia and America should have common objectives."