UNITED RUSSIA CONGRATULATES U.S. REPUBLICANS

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MOSCOW, November 3 (RIA Novosti) - The United Russia political party-the country's strongest, with a steady parliamentary majority-congratulated US Republicans with a presidential election won, and a successful congressional poll.

The United Russia determined its US-related political preferences four years ago, and has been sticking to them, Boris Gryzlov, party leader and State Duma Speaker, said to newsmen. However, "as the Russian top previously announced, it will cooperate with whatever president the American nation elects-we respect the people's choice," he added.

"We largely share the incumbent US Administration's stances on many international issues-in particular, on the anti-terror cause," the parliamentary leader went on.

George Bush had put combat against terrorism into the foreground of his election campaign, and "we hope the Administration will be consistent with that policy".

"We expect ever closer Russian-American ties now that the US President has won a second term," Mr. Gryzlov said with emphasis.

No US presidential poll over the preceding fifty years has polarised the electorate to such an extent as the latest, Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Moscow-based Politica foundation, remarked in a Novosti interview. He pointed out the benefits of the incumbent staying at the helm. Russia stands to gain mainly because the US Administration will cling to the line it pursued during Mr. Bush's first presidential term, said the analyst.

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