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Russia ready to be friends with U.S. - Putin

EVIAN. June 3 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is ready to further develop relations with the U.S.

At a briefing in Evian, Putin recalled Russia's firm position on Iraq and said that it could have caused President Bush "to take offense, not to come to St. Petersburg and head for further confrontation in the relations between Moscow and Washington."

"But Bush acted like a serious politician who wants to develop relations with Russia and the whole world. It would be stupid to push back a hand outstretched in friendship, to turn one's back and sulk. We are not going to make any coalitions," Putin said.

"The U.S. is Russia's major partner, and in some areas the United States' role is absolutely unique for Russia," Putin said. "We are talking about issues relating to the strengthening of international security and strategic stability," he said.

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