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Rice, Lavrov agree to stick to plans on Iran, North Korea

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, agreed after a meeting Wednesday that their cooperation was necessary to take action on Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programmes.

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US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday began her first talks with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov since US-Russian relations plummeted over the war in Georgia last month.

Both Rice and Lavrov smiled for the cameras as they sat down for talks in a luxury hotel on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, but both declined to answer questions from reporters.

"Let's shake hands, and maybe they (the reporters) will go away," Rice told Lavrov after declining to reply to a question about what message she would give him about Georgia.

"Do you think this will satisfy them?" Lavrov asked.

Laughing, Rice replied: "I don't know, but it's worth a try."

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war when Russian troops poured into South Ossetia on August 8 to repel an attack by Tbilisi's forces.

Russia routed the Georgian troops and set up positions deep inside Georgian territory, subsequently announcing it would withdraw troops to Georgia's breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which it had recognized as independent.

Moscow has said it will keep 7,600 troops in the two regions to ensure security.

Tbilisi and its Western allies have criticised the Russian deployment, saying it amounts to annexation of Georgia's sovereign territory.

The US government is demanding that Russia withdraw not only all its troops from Georgia proper but also reduce them to the levels they had before August 6 in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
  

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