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Russia denies Pentagon chief tries to get through by phone
The Russian Defense Ministry on Friday denied reports that their U.S. counterparts had tried in vain to reach Moscow by phone.
"No notice has come lately from the U.S. side about an intention of (Pentagon chief) Chuck Hagel to speak to (Russian Defense Minister) Sergei Shoigu," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters.
The Russian Defense Ministry has always been ready for "objective and constructive conversations" with its U.S. partners, Konashenkov said, adding such exchanges would be especially useful for the sooner end of the turmoil in Ukraine.
"Direct dialogue between defense ministers of Russia and the United States is always better than the exchange of statements through the mass media," Interfax news agency quoted the spokesman as saying.
Earlier in the day, the Moscow Times daily, citing Reuters, said Hagel had voiced concern about reports of military activities along the Russian-Ukrainian border and said he was trying to arrange a call with Shoigu.
Konashenkov noted that the procedure of booking phone talks between defense ministries of the two countries had long been established.
On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that phone talks planned for that day between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had not taken place "for reasons that did not depend on Moscow."
In a statement made to the press Thursday, Kerry accused Russia of inaction in helping to ease the tensions in eastern Ukraine, warning that the United States is ready to impose additional sanctions in response.
[Source: Xinhua, Moscow, 25Apr14]
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