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    Kissinger-led U.S. group attends closed debate at Putin home

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    A group of Russian and U.S. dignitaries gathered Friday at the presidential residence near Moscow behind closed doors in a bid to repair shattered ties.

    NOVO-OGARYOVO (Moscow Region), July 13 (RIA Novosti) - A group of Russian and U.S. dignitaries gathered Friday at the presidential residence near Moscow behind closed doors in a bid to repair shattered ties.

    The panel called "Russia-USA: A Look Into the Future," led by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, declined to comment on the first Moscow session, but said it was a successful beginning to a series of high-level meetings.

    "We discussed many issues. Our goal was not to get media coverage, score public relations points, or press home any propaganda messages. We came here to solve problems," Primakov said.

    "We agreed to hold the next meeting in mid-December in Washington, D.C.," where the panelists will meet with President George W. Bush, he added.

    Kissinger thanked Putin for his hospitality and praised the Russian leader for his realistic and open approach.

    "We appreciate the time that President Putin gave us and the frank manner in which he explained his point of view," he said.

    When asked whether U.S. unilateral interventionism was on the agenda, Kissinger said that "nuclear proliferation" and "nuclear threats," rather than U.S. policies, are the biggest danger to world peace.

    "I do not think that [U.S.] expansion is a problem of the period. The problem of the period is how to avoid nuclear conflict and in this case we believe that Russia and America should have common objectives."

    Addressing the panel's first meeting, Putin thanked its participants for their quick response to the idea to set up such a high-level group, first aired during his April meeting with Kissinger and Primakov, and urged them to keep the debate as close to the ground as possible.

    "[Your findings] should not be brought to our foreign ministries to gather dust there. They should be treated as something of practical use," he said.

    He stressed that the idea was to set up a broad panel that would be open-minded when discussing issues.

    "We cannot afford having a Russia-U.S. relationship that depends on the current political situation inside both our countries. We cannot allow our relationship to serve such narrow issues, as, for example, election campaigns in Russia or the U.S.," Putin said.

    Apart from Kissinger, the U.S. team includes former Secretary of State George Schultz; former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; former Special Representative for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr.; former Senator Sam Nunn; and Chevron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David O'Reilly.

    Apart from Primakov, the Russian team includes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; former Ambassador to the U.S. Yuly Vorontsov; Deputy Board Chairman of UES Russia Leonid Drachevsky; UC Rusal Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alexander Livshits, and former Soviet Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mikhail Moiseyev.

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