Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticised the U.S. arrests of suspects in an alleged Russian spy ring and said on Tuesday he hoped the scandal would not set back improving Russian-U.S. ties.
"Back at your home, the police went out of control (and) are throwing people in jail," Putin told former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
"But that's the kind of job they have," he added, drawing a laugh from Clinton when he heard the translation.
"I hope that all the positive gains that have been achieved in our relationship will not be damaged by the recent event," Putin added.
U.S. authorities said on Monday that they had arrested 10 suspects on charges including conspiracy to act as unlawful agents of Russia and money laundering. An 11th suspect was detained and released on bail in Cyprus.
The biggest spy scandal in years between the Cold War foes has broken at a time when the U.S. administration and the Kremlin are trying to improve long-strained ties.
Moscow said that the suspects in the alleged spy ring were Russian citizens who had never acted against U.S. interests.
The Foreign Ministry also said lawyers and diplomats must be given access to the suspects and urged the United States to take into account the "positive character" of current Russian-U.S. relations when dealing with the case.
But the United States will continue to work diplomatically with Moscow to cement gains in their relationship, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon said.
"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," Gordon told a news briefing, adding that that the new cooperation would continue despite the spy case.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 29 Haziran 2010, 23:22