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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin met with actor Steven Seagal on Friday and made a gesture designed to signal the thawing of relations between Russia and the United States.

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Seagal, 64, has visited Russia several times in recent years and has been seen with Putin at martial arts events, according to The Associated Press. The actor has defended Putin’s policies and criticized U.S. actions.

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On Friday, Putin met with Seagal at the Kremlin and presented him with a Russian passport. Seagal was awarded citizenship through a presidential decree. Putin said he hopes the ceremony, which aired on Russian state television, is “a sign of a gradual normalization of the relations between the countries.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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