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Russia to U.S.: Keep the bar talk in Texas

Texas bar talk just ain't right for international diplomacy.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Texas bar talk just ain't right for international diplomacy.

That's the opinion of Russia's Foreign Ministry, which is dismayed by language used by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack at a briefing this week. McCormack accused Russia of violating the essence of an updated EU-brokered cease-fire with Georgia.

"Look, these guys are trying to — at every turn, trying to wiggle out of a commitment they made and that their president put his name to," McCormack said Wednesday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko expressed on Friday Moscow's displeasure with the remark.

"I would like to say that 'these guys' is not language one uses with one's political and other partners," he said. "This kind of language can be used in bars, somewhere in Texas for example, but not in the practice of international contacts."

Texas is President Bush's home state.

McCormack, upon hearing Friday that Moscow took offense, fired back.

"Well, you know, get out the fainting couch for them," he said. "They should probably focus less on exactly how I phrase things and maybe focus their energies on getting out of Georgia."

The verbal sparring comes as relations between Moscow and Washington have frayed in the wake of Russia's war with Georgia, a U.S. ally. And there is more evidence that the normally dry tone of diplomacy has evaporated.

After Russia recognized Georgia's two separatist regions at the heart of the conflict, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sneered: "It isn't really an impressive list to have Abkhazia and South Ossetia recognize each other."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, speaking to visiting scholars Thursday, defended Russia's response to Georgia's Aug. 7 attack on the pro-Russian enclave of South Ossetia.

"How could it be otherwise? Or what, in this case, we were just supposed to wipe away the bloody snot and, as they say in these situations, hang our heads?" Putin said, according to a government transcript.