MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday presented a Russian passport to US actor Steven Seagal, and said he hoped it would serve as a symbol of how the fractious ties between Moscow and Washington are starting to improve.

At a ceremony where Seagal signed his new passport in front of Putin, the Russian leader said: "I want to congratulate you and express the hope that this is another, albeit small, gesture and it might be a sign of the gradual normalisation of relations between our countries."