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Kremlin: Obama team trying to damage ties with Russia

Associated Press Associated Press 17/11/2016 VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press

MOSCOW — The Kremlin accused U.S. President Barack Obama's administration Thursday of trying to damage relations with Russia to a degree that would make rebuilding them in the future a challenge.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Putin's telephone conversation with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump this week revealed a "shared desire to join efforts in the fight against terrorism" that creates a "good basis for future work on the Syrian problem."

During the conversation, Trump supported Putin's call for normalizing U.S.-Russia ties, Ushakov told Russian news agencies. The two men agreed that bilateral relations "can't be worse," according to Ushakov, adding that Trump "expressed his readiness not only to normalize ties, but also develop them intensively in all areas."

Trump's office said in a statement following Monday's call that "President-elect Trump noted to President Putin that he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia."

Ushakov, meanwhile, alleged that the Obama administration of "doing everything it can to drive bilateral ties into such a deadlock that (it) would make it difficult for a new team to get them out from, if it wishes to do so."

Obama was in Berlin on Thursday for his final foreign trip as president. The White House declined to comment on Ushakov's accusation.

At the same time, Ushakov said that "it can't be excluded" that Putin and Obama would have a conversation at the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru this weekend.

The timing for a meeting between Trump and Putin hasn't been discussed yet, but their representatives plan to confer on scheduling, Ushakov said.

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Associated Press Writer Josh Lederman contributed to this story from Berlin.

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