15:31 GMT +324 June 2018
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    Putin congratulates U.S. on Independence Day, looks to G8 summit

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    MOSCOW, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian leader Vladimir Putin has congratulated his U.S. counterpart on American Independence Day and said he hoped an upcoming G8 summit would spur bilateral cooperation in all areas, the Kremlin press office reported Tuesday.

    In a telegram to George W. Bush, Putin said: "I am pleased to see growing cooperation between our countries on a whole range of regional and international issues, in fighting international terrorism and other global challenges, which are an important factor of stability in the world."

    Putin's words echo a statement from Kremlin aide Sergei Prikhodko Tuesday, who denied there was any clash of Russian and American interests in foreign politics and cooling in bilateral relations.

    Russia, which did not back the U.S. military operation in Iraq and insists on dialogue on Iran's controversial nuclear programs, has accused Washington of unilateralism, whereas American politicians and think tanks have recently denounced Russia's lack of democracy. Some senators even urged President Bush to refuse to attend the G8 summit in Russia unless Putin improved his country's democratic record.

    The U.S. also remains the only country in the 58-member Working Party on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization that has not signed a bilateral protocol with Russia. Talks have been tense over a number of issues, including access to Russia's banking sector, intellectual property rights, import duties and agricultural subsidies.

    Prikhodko said Tuesday that Russia wanted to sign a bilateral deal with the U.S. on its accession to the global trade body at the summit of the July 15-17 Group of Eight industrialized nations, which Russia will host for the first time.

    "Steadily growing bilateral cooperation in the trade and economic, energy and other spheres also meets the interests of the Russian and American nations," Putin said in the telegram.

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