MOSCOW Jan 23 Russia wants constructive
relations with the United States despite disputes over U.S.
legislation designed to punish Russian human rights abusers and
other difficulties in ties, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov said on Wednesday.
Lavrov spoke during an annual news conference after a year
during which relations between the former Cold War foes have
deteriorated following improvements under U.S. President Barack
Obama's "reset" policy.
A major irritant has been the Magnitsky Act, a law signed by
Obama last month that denies visas to Russians accused of human
rights violations and freezes their assets in the United States.
Russia President Vladimir Putin has responded by signing a
law that imposes similar measures on Americans it says have
abused the rights of Russians and also bans adoptions of Russian
orphans by Americans, further increasing tension.
Lavrov called the Magnitsky Act "odious" and also criticised
a U.S. judge's recent ruling in a dispute over a collection of
Jewish writings held in Russia. He also said the sides remain at
odds over U.S. plans for a anti-missile shield in Europe.
However, he said, "We are interested in constructive
dialogue and the development of stable, mutually beneficial
cooperation, particularly in the area of investment, in trade
and economic relations and in contacts between people."