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U.S. Seeks Answers over Russian Naval Encounter


While U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was hosting the Russian Defense Minister Wednesday and signing agreements aimed at improving defense cooperation, the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead was meeting with his Russian counterpart to get an explanation of an incident which occurred in the Barents Sea over the weekend.

The U.S. Navy frigate Taylor was returning from a port call in Russia, steaming in international waters, when a Russian maritime patrol aircraft made two low passes over the ship. The Russian plane is capable of carrying torpedoes, bombs and depth charges and had its bomb bay doors open.

The next day a Russian warship appeared on the horizon and sent out a helicopter which circled the Taylor at close range. Nothing more happened, but a U.S. officials say it was a violation of the long-standing Incidents at Sea agreement designed to prevent close encounters between the two navies.

Roughead said through a spokesman that he had a "private" conversation with the Russian admiral and was "satisfied."

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