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Putin stresses need to avoid conflict with U.S.

President Vladimir Putin on 3 April told journalists that Russia is deliberately avoiding direct involvement in recent international crises and that he will make every effort to avoid Russia's involvement "in any form" in the current crisis in Iraq, Western and Russian media reported.

Putin emphasized that the United States is Russia's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching $9.2 billion last year. He noted that Russia's economy is heavily dependent on the state of the U.S. economy and the value of the U.S. dollar. About three-quarters of Russia's $55.5 billion hard-currency reserves are held in U.S. dollars, Putin said. Any drop in the value of the dollar would lead to direct losses for Russia. The same is true for private citizens, who also prefer to hold their savings in dollars, Putin noted.

Moreover, bilateral political cooperation is also extremely important for Russia. As the world's two leading nuclear powers, the United States and Russia share a special responsibility for maintaining peace and stability around the world, Putin remarked. Both countries must work together to end the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism.

Putin also repeated Russia's commitment to creating a global international-security system centered on the United Nations, a goal that he said can only be achieved in cooperation with the United States.

(RFE/RL 04.iv.03)

 
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