MOSCOW: Russia wants constructive ties with the U.S. despite disputes over American legislation designed to punish Russian human rights abusers and other difficulties, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said 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 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.
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.
Lavrov called the Magnitsky Act “odious,” criticizing a U.S. judge’s recent ruling in a dispute over a collection of Jewish writings held in Russia. He also there are disputes over U.S. plans for a anti-missile shield in Europe.
However, he added, “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.”