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Putin vows to develop ties with next U.S. president
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08:46, February 15, 2008

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President Vladimir Putin on Thursday pledged Russia's efforts to continue developing a "partnership dialogue" with the United States.

Regardless of who wins the U.S presidential election, Moscow "will respect the choice of the American people and will cooperate with any president, if he wants it," Putin said at his annual press conference in the Kremlin.

"Whatever they say during the election campaign, the fundamental interests of Russia and the United States will inevitably push the leadership of both countries towards developing a positive and, at least, partnership dialogue," he said.

Three U.S. presidential hopefuls -- Democrats Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain -- are leading the ongoing presidential nomination races.

Putin is expected to step down after the March presidential election due to a constitutional ban on a third consecutive term.

Ties between Moscow and Washington dipped in recent years due to an array of disputes, including U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in eastern Europe.

Nearly 1,400 domestic and foreign journalists attended the three-hour news conference, possibly Putin's last press briefing as president.

Source: Xinhua

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