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Putin tells Trump that Russia open to ‘wide-ranging’ dialogue with US

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with Russian Defense Ministry top officials and representatives of the Russian Defense Industry, at Bocharov Ruchei residence. (Klimentyev Mikhail/TASS /ZUMA Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow remains open for dialogue with Washington.

Putin made the offer in a New Year letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, details of which were disclosed by the Kremlin on December 30.

Relations between the United States and Russia remain strained over a raft of issues, including Russia’s role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, its alleged meddling in elections in the United States and elsewhere, and the poisoning of a Russian double agent in Britain.

At the end of November, Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina, citing tensions after Russian forces opened fire on Ukrainian Navy boats before seizing them and capturing 24 Ukrainian sailors.

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In the letter, Putin stressed that U.S.-Russian relations “are the most important factor for providing strategic stability and international security,” according to a statement by the Kremlin quoted by Russian media on December 30.

“[Putin] confirmed that Russia is open for dialogue with the U.S.A. on the most wide-ranging agenda,” the statement said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying that it is now up to the United States to decide whether to hold a new meeting in 2019.

“The issue should be addressed to Washington. Both our president and his representatives have said that we are ready for the talks when Washington is ready for it,” the state-run TASS news agency quoted Lavrov as saying in televised remarks.

Putin also addressed a New Year’s letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been a recipient of Russian support throughout a seven-year civil war in the Middle Eastern country.

Putin “stressed that Russia will continue to provide all-around assistance to the government and people of Syria in their fight against terrorism and efforts to protect state sovereignty and territorial integrity.”