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US Defends Policies In Face Of Russian Minister’s Criticism February 5, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News, World News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–The U.S. State Department defended the Bush administration’s foreign policy on Monday in the face of assertions by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Washington is Moscow’s “most difficult partner” in diplomatic dealings.

“We stand up for what we think is right,” spokesman Sean McCormack said. “We stand up on principle. We stand up for our national interest. We stand up for freedom and democracy. And if that makes us a difficult negotiating partner, I guess I will take that as a badge of honor.”

He described Lavrov as a tough advocate for his country’s interests, as is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on behalf of U.S. interests. The two diplomats had meetings here Thursday and Friday and, during a news conference, they clashed over the wisdom of engaging countries or groups hostile to the U.S. in the Middle East.

Rice opposes such overtures while Lavrov takes a different view.

In comments reported by the Interfax news agency on Sunday, Lavrov urged the U.S. to learn from its mistakes on the world stage.

He blamed Washington for impasses in the Middle East, suggesting the U.S. approach there was too confrontational, Interfax news agency reported.

“Like any other country, we are interested in having good, smooth, clear relations with the United States” but it is “not easy,” Lavrov was quoted as saying in an interview.

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