Putin hopes for better Russia-US ties, anti-terror action

Putin hopes for better Russia-US ties, anti-terror action
Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AFP / Natalia Kolesnikova)
Updated 01 December 2016

Putin hopes for better Russia-US ties, anti-terror action

Putin hopes for better Russia-US ties, anti-terror action

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia hopes to normalize ties with the US and join efforts in the fight against international terrorism.
Speaking in a live state-of-the-nation address, Putin said that Russia is ready to take part in tackling global challenges if its interests are respected.
“We don’t want confrontation with anyone,” he said in a speech before officials and lawmakers in an ornate, white-marble Kremlin hall.
“Unlike our foreign colleagues who are seeing Russia as an enemy, we have never been looking for enemies, we need friends,” Putin said. “But we won’t allow any infringement on our interests and neglect of them.”
Russia’s relations with the West have plummeted to a post-Cold War low over the Ukrainian crisis and the war in Syria. During the US election campaign, President Barack Obama’s administration accused Russia of hacking American political sites and e-mail accounts in an effort to interfere with the vote. The Kremlin has rejected the accusations.
“In the last few years. we have faced attempts of foreign pressure with all tools involved — from the myths about Russian aggression, (allegations) of meddling in elections to the hounding of our athletes,” Putin said, referring to doping scandals.
Putin said that Russia is looking forward to mending ties with the US after President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
“We are ready for cooperation with the new American administration,” he said. “It’s important to normalize and develop our bilateral ties on an equal and mutually beneficial basis. We share responsibility for ensuring global security and stability and strengthening the non-proliferation regime.”
Putin added that Moscow hopes to pool efforts with Washington in confronting international terrorism.
“Our servicemen in Syria are fulfilling that task,” he said.
Russia has conducted an air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping his forces make significant gains, most recently in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the war.
In the speech that was mostly focused on economic and social issues, Putin said that the Russian economy is on the way to recovery, pointing at a growth in some sectors of industry and agriculture. He said agricultural exports this year will top $16 billion, exceeding weapons exports.
The Russian economy contracted 3.7 percent in 2015 and the recession has continued this year under the combined blow of low oil prices and Western sanctions.
Putin said the government should encourage growth by offering support to farmers and create incentives for small businesses.
He noted that inflation, which stood at nearly 13 percent last year, is expected to slow down to 6 percent this year.


Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint
Updated 1 min 37 sec ago

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint
  • Washington is under a high state of alert ahead of Biden’s Wednesday inauguration
  • Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists pose a threat to Washington

WASHINGTON: A heavily armed man has been arrested in Washington at a security checkpoint near the US Capitol, where President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated next week, authorities said.
Wesley Allen Beeler, of Virginia, was taken into custody after police found him with a handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition, shotgun shells and a magazine for the gun, according to a police report obtained by AFP.
He had tried to pass through the checkpoint using fake inaugural credentials, CNN reported, citing a law enforcement source.
Washington is under a high state of alert ahead of Biden’s Wednesday inauguration, after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6.
Five people died in the assault, including a police officer.
Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.
Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington and streets have been blocked off downtown with concrete barriers.
The National Mall, which is normally packed with people every four years for presidential inaugurations, has been declared off-limits at the request of the Secret Service, which ensures the security of the president.