The remarks come after Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with US State Secretary John Kerry as part of the so-called “2+2″ talks in Washington, in which Russian defense minister, Sergey Shoygu, and US Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, also took part. “There’s no Cold War [between Russia and the US]. On the contrary, we have the closest partnership and very good potential for its improvement,” the Russian FM stressed. The Foreign Minister once again stated that Russia acted in accordance with its own legislation and international law when it granted temporary asylum to CIA former employee. He also reiterated that the US has never signed an extradition treaty with Russia. The current talks are taking place amid an escalation of tensions between Moscow and Washington, with Barack Obama announcing the cancellation of his September visit to Russia and personal meeting with Vladimir Putin due to severe disagreements on a number of issues including Snowden – as well as missile defense, the Middle East and human rights issues. Lavrov however pointed out that Obama’s visit to Moscow wasn’t canceled, but rather “postponed,” expressing hope that the US President will eventually take advantage of the invitation to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Earlier, the Kremlin said the cancellation of the US president’s trip came as no surprise, adding that the move only shows that America “still isn’t ready to build relations with Russia on equal footing.” Washington was “disappointed” by Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who revealed secret American surveillance programs to the public in June. Russia repeatedly said it cannot extradite the whistleblower, who is wanted in the US on espionage charges, because there is no legal basis for such action. The two countries have also taken a different approach to the Syrian civil war, with the Kremlin supporting President Bashar Assad and the White House supporting the rebels – despite a large presence of Al-Qaeda affiliated militants within their ranks. Moscow and Washington’s efforts to organize a peace conference in Syria have so far been fruitless, mainly because there is no unity among the country’s opposition. The US refuses to provide legally-binding guarantees that its missile defense in Eastern Europe – which is said to be aimed at “rogue states” like Iran and North Korea – won’t be targeting Russia. Moscow has warned of taking countermeasures to maintain a strategic balance of forces.
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