Russian Foreign Ministry: Ties with US a priority

Relations with the United States are one of Moscow's foreign policy priorities, and disputes should not prevent the former Cold War foes from forging closer ties, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. The statement, after a top-level ministry meeting on Russian-American relations, came at a time when ties are deeply strained by disagreements over a range of issues. The two countries disagree over the future status of Kosovo, the state of democracy in Russia and American plans for a missile defense system in Europe. The statement also came after a parliamentary election campaign in which President Vladimir Putin stepped up his criticism of the West, and the United States in particular. Putin has accused the United States of damaging international security by abusing its global clout.