Putin, in the New Year's letter to Trump, says that Moscow is open to dialogue

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a new year letter to his US counterpart Donald Trump, said today that Moscow is ready for dialogue on a "broad program", the Kremlin said.

FILE PHOTO – Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with officials and representatives of the Russian business community in the Moscow Kremlin, Russia, on December 26, 2018. Alexander Nemenov / Pool via REUTERS

At the end of November, Trump suddenly canceled a scheduled meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina, citing tensions over the Russian forces that opened fire on Ukrainian navy ships and then seized them.

"Vladimir Putin stressed that relations (Russia – United States) are the most important factor in providing strategic stability and international security," a Kremlin statement said.

"He confirmed that Russia is open to dialogue with the United States on the broader agenda".

In a separate letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Putin promised the continuation of aid to the Syrian government and people in the "fight against terrorism, in defense of state sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Putin has also sent good year wishes to other world leaders including Prime Ministers Theresa May of Britain and Shinzo Abe of Japan, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Putin wished "prosperity and prosperity for the British people," the Kremlin said.

The Russian embassy in London said Friday that Moscow and London agreed to return staff to their respective embassies after expelling dozens of diplomats at the start of this year.

Britain has expelled 23 Russian diplomats on charges that the Kremlin had followed a nervous toxin attack in March against former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.

Russia, which denies any involvement in poisoning, sends home the same number of employees as the British embassy in reprisal.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Editing by William Maclean; editing by David Stamp, William Maclean

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