Russian President Vladimir Putin talked to U.S. President Bill Clinton on the telephone on Friday, the Kremlin said, but could give no details. Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Alexei Gromov as saying the conversation took place at Washington's request. Putin is in the southern resort of Sochi on a working holiday. Gromov was also quoted as saying a telephone conversation between Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, due to take place today, had been put off, Reuters announces. Russia is co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process with the United States, although Moscow was not invited to the crisis summit at Sharm el-Sheik earlier this week, which sought to end Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Russia's trial of U.S. businessman Edmond Pope on spying charges has also been a thorn in relations between Moscow and Washington.
The Kremlin has taken two strong steps in a war of nerves that has caused quite a stir in the NATO-Ukraine alliance