MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and the United States must do more to strengthen relations because the “reset” in ties cannot continue forever, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview published on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama called for the reset in ties before taking office in 2008 but relations have been strained by differences over issues such as missile defense, human rights and the conflict in Syria.
“If we talk about the ‘reset’, it is clear that, using computer terminology, it cannot last forever. Otherwise it would not be a ‘reset’ but a program failure,” Lavrov told the Kommersant business daily.
“Instead of dwelling on the name of this or that stage, we should think about how to develop our relations. Or, again using computer specialists’ terminology, we should update the software.”
Lavrov said deepening economic cooperation would help improve ties between the former Cold War enemies but that some moves would have to wait until after the U.S. presidential election next month.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney has accused Obama of being soft on Moscow during his four-year term and described Russia as the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe”.
The jailing of three women from the Pussy Riot punk band for two years in August over a profane “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin in a Russian Orthodox cathedral also prompted criticism from Washington.
Lavrov said there was a distorted image of Russia in the West and dismissed suggestions the verdict was politically motivated or that it amounted to pressure on the opposition.
He reiterated that Russia would not back efforts to topple President Bashar al-Assad to end the conflict in Syria, saying this would be “incitement to fratricidal war” that put at risk hundreds of thousands of lives.
Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Jon Hemming