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Vladimir Putin sends new year's greeting to Obama

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Russian President Vladimir Putin sent new year's greetings to President Obama, and urged closer ties between their two nations despite a tumultuous 2013.

“In his message to President of the United States of America Barack Obama, the President of Russia emphasised that the events of the past year clearly demonstrated how, acting in the spirit of partnership and on the basis of respecting one another, Russia and the United States are capable of making a real input into supporting global stability, resolving some of the most difficult international problems,” said a statement on the Kremlin's English-language website.

“Putin also confirmed his desire to maintain a constructive dialogue and continue joint work to strengthen trust and mutual understanding in Russian-US relations, to broaden cooperation in the economic, science and technology, cultural, and other areas,” the statement added.

Putin and Obama have long had an icy relationship that worsened last year over a number of high-profile disputes.

The Russian leader angered the U.S. by granting temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Snowden, who disclosed classified documents detailing the NSA's surveillance programs, is wanted in the U.S. on theft and espionage charges.

The Obama administration, though, hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough a deal brokered by Putin that would see Syrian strongman Bashar Assad relinquish his nuclear arsenal.

But critics of the deal said that it only managed to stave off Obama’s threats to punish Assad for using chemical weapons and would only help the Syrian leader -- a longtime ally of Russia -- to stay in power.

Obama also criticized Russia after that country's lawmakers passed new anti-gay rights legislation. Obama tapped a number of openly gay athletes for the presidential delegation to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and said that he would not have time to attend the games -- moves that were seen as a public rebuke of Putin.

The administration, though, offered Russia security assistance for the Olympics after two suicide bomb attacks in the central city of Volgograd earlier this week. The attacks, which killed dozens, has raised fears that terrorists could strike in Sochi during the games.

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