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Top Obama aide meets Putin

US President Barack Obama’s top national security aide met Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin ahead of his inauguration during a two-day stay in Moscow, the White House said Friday.

National security advisor Tom Donilon also met other senior officials at a time of high tension between the Kremlin and the White House on issues like Syria and a US missile defense system in Europe.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said that Donilon discussed “next steps in US-Russia relations, including cooperation on security and economic issues,” adding that both sides looked forward to developing a “constructive partnership.”

Questions hang over the “reset” of US-Russia relations engineered by Obama with outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, following anti-American rhetoric which punctuated the Russian elections in March.

Putin, who will be sworn in a third term as president on Monday, is expected to meet Obama on the sidelines of the G8 summit that the US leader will host at his presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland on May 18-19.

Russia warned on Thursday that its dispute with the United States over missile defense was near a “dead end” and warned it might have to deploy new rockets in Europe to take out elements of the controversial shield.

Moscow opposes the system that Washington is deploying to protect its European allies against attack from enemy states such as Iran.

Officials in Moscow fear the shield could undermine its own nuclear deterrence and have warned of an arms buildup if Washington fails to allay its concerns.

The standoff has tested Russian-US relations for much of the past decade.