U.S. Defense Chief Gates Arrives In Russia, Praises Ties With Moscow

Robert Gates has arrived in Russia today for what is expected to be his final visit to the country as U.S. defense secretary.

Speaking to reporters before landing in St. Petersburg, Gates praised what he called the “extraordinary” progress that the Russia and the United States have made in improving their ties in recent years.

Gates, who is expected to retire this summer, pointed to Russia’s cooperation with the U.S.-led coalition in the Afghan war and its support of United Nations Security Council resolutions targeting North Korea and Iran.

He also noted that Russia had abstained in last week’s Security Council vote on military intervention in Libya, effectively allowing for the allied assault on Muammar Qaddafi’s regime to go forward.

Gates is scheduled to hold talks with Russian leaders and speak to a class of Russian Naval Academy junior officers.

compiled from agency reports

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