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Spy scandal will not affect Russia-U.S. ties


The latest Russia-U.S. spy scandal will not affect bilateral ties, the White House said on Tuesday.

"I do not believe that this will affect the reset of our relationship with Russia," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a press briefing.

"We have made great progress in the past year and a half, working on issues of mutual concern from a new START treaty to working together on... North Korea and Iran. So I do not think that this will affect those relations," he said.

The United States arrested on Monday 11 people on suspicion of spying for Russia. Moscow admitted the arrestees were Russian nationals, but denied they had acted against the United States.

Putin hopes scandal will not damage relations

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he hopes the latest spy scandal will not damage Russian-U.S. ties.

"Your police have gotten out of hand, and people are being thrown in jail," he said opening a meeting with visiting ex-U.S. President Bill Clinton, who came to Russia to speak at an international conference, near Moscow.

"I hope the positive developments that have accumulated recently will not be damaged," Putin said. "We hope people who cherish Russian-American relations understand this."

Russia says no actions committed against U.S. interests

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the arrestees were "Russian citizens who found themselves on U.S. territory at different times," and that they have "not committed any actions directed against U.S. interests."

It said Moscow hoped those detained would be "well treated while in custody" and that the U.S. authorities would grant Russian lawyers access to the suspects.

The U.S. Department of Justice said on Monday 11 people had been charged as "unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States."

U.S. authorities said the case was "the result of a multi-year investigation conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney`s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Counterespionage Section and the Office of Intelligence within the Justice Department`s National Security Division."

Some of the suspects had been under surveillance since January and part of their correspondence with Moscow had been intercepted and decoded.

"You were sent to U.S.A. for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc. - all these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission - to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in the U.S. and send intels," one of the purported messages said.

U.S. State Department hopes cooperation with Russia continues

A U.S. State Department official said on Tuesday the United States counts on successful cooperation with Russia despite the spy scandal.

"We feel that we have made significant progress in the 18 months that we have been pursuing this different relationship with Russia. We think we have something to show for it," Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon said.

He said Washington hoped to continue to cement the relationship with Moscow despite the arrest .

"We`re moving toward a more trusting relationship. We`re beyond the Cold War," Gordon said. "I think our relations absolutely demonstrate that. But as I say, I don`t think anyone was hugely shocked to know that some vestiges of old attempts to use intelligence are still there."

He said the State Department was in touch with the Russian government discussing the issue both "here [in Washington] and in Moscow."

Gordon said the Justice Department determined its own timing for the spy ring announcement and this had no connection to U.S.-Russia diplomatic ties.

"We have from the start focused on the reason for the reset in the relations and the common interest, and I think we will continue to do so," he said.

U.S. media has said it is unclear from the report what information was transmitted by those charged and whether their activities jeopardized U.S. security.

Under U.S. law, those found guilty of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Those found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering face 20 years.

The evidence submitted by the FBI to the court indicates that some of the suspects were in contact with Russian "state officials," including diplomats from Russia`s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York from 2004 to the beginning of 2010.

Source: Spy scandal will not affect Russia-U.S. ties

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