MOSCOW, April 19 (Xinhua) -- President Vladimir Putin on Saturday lauded incoming NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in sharp contrast to his recent comments on the bloc's outgoing chief.
"We (Putin and Stoltenberg) have very warm relations, including personal relations," he said in a local television interview, adding Stoltenberg "is a very serious and responsible man."
The remarks came two days after Putin accused current NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of secretly recording and publishing a personal conversation between them when Rasmussen was Danish Prime Minister.
"I could not believe my ears and eyes ... He should have at least warned me or at least asked for my permission before publishing these negotiations," Putin said in his annual live chat with the Russian public, which this year lasted four hours.
"What trust can there be after such incidents?" he said.
Noting Russia-West relations depended on both sides, the president said "I believe there is nothing that could prevent normalization and normal cooperation."
Stoltenberg, a former Prime Minister of Norway, is to be sworn in as new NATO chief on Oct. 1, when Rasmussen's term in office expires.
U.S. threatens more sanctions for Russia's failure to help ease tension in Ukraine
WASHINGTON, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Friday threatened additional sanctions on Russia in case of its failure to help calm down the tense situation in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S., the EU, Russia and Ukraine on Thursday brokered an agreement in Geneva to de-escalate tension in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian militants were occupying government buildings in some cities, and Ukraine's military operation had failed to flush them out. Full story
Britain's Hague offers "cautious welcome" to Ukraine agreement
LONDON, April 18 (Xinhua) -- British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Friday offered his "cautious welcome" to the agreement reached at the four-way Geneva talks over the Ukraine crisis on Thursday.
"Yesterday's agreement was at the top end of our expectations. We should certainly welcome it, but it should be a cautious welcome. The next steps are to see implementation, and we need to see progress quickly over the next few days," Hague said in a statement. Full story
Ukraine gov't mulls constitutional reform
KIEV, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine's government is prepared to conduct constitutional changes that would grant more say to local governments on budget and tax policy and give the Russian language a special status in efforts to overcome the current crisis in the country, Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said here Friday.
"The Ukrainian government is ready to conduct comprehensive constitutional reform that will strengthen the regions' powers," Yatsenyuk said in a televised address to the nation. Full story