Kissinger lauds Putin's role in improving US-Russia relations

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Moscow, May 5 (UNI) Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has said outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin made a substantial contribution to improving relations between the two countries in an extremely difficult situation.

In an exclusive interview to Russia Today TV channel on the eve of Mr Putin's hand over of power to his chosen successor Dmitry Medvedev, Mr Kissinger said, ''Russia would have to find a comfortable place for itself in a new environment, under the new President.'' He said, ''Russia has gone through tremendous dramas throughout its history, but particularly in the last 20 years when Russia has totally changed its governmental system and, in a way, lost many territories that used to be part of the Russian empire.'' ''Mr Putin took over as President in an extremely difficult situation and I have a very high regard for him,'' Mr Kissinger said.

He also expressed confidence that Russia and the US will be strategic partners to a certain extent despite their disagreements.

Mr Medvedev, the 42-year-old attorney, who has long served as an adviser and friend to Mr Putin, will be inaugurated as Russia's President on Wednesday.

The ceremony will mark the start of three days of pomp and circumstance that will include Mr Putin being named Prime Minister on Thursday and the annual Victory Day parade on Friday in Red Square.

UNI XC SKB HT1700

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