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Russia Signals New Optimism On Ties With U.S.


Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov called U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's speech "very positive."

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov called U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's speech "very positive."

MUNICH (Reuters) -- Russia has welcomed an offer by the United States "to press the reset button" on relations with Moscow and suggested the two sides could jointly review the contentious issue of missile defense.

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told a news conference: "It is obvious that the new U.S. administration has a very strong desire to change and that inspires optimism."

Earlier, he described as "very positive" a remark by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at an international security conference in Munich that it was time to "reset" relations and end a dangerous drift in ties between Russia and NATO.

Moscow strongly opposed plans by former President George W. Bush to deploy parts of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, to defend against perceived threats from countries hostile to Washington, chiefly Iran.

Ivanov, also speaking in Munich, indicated that Moscow was prepared to discuss missile threats with Washington.

"We do not claim there is no threat. The question is how we are going to react to the hypothetical threat of the spread of missile technologies," he said. "There are a few options that include, among other things, a joint threat assessment [by] Russia and the U.S."

Ivanov also reaffirmed that if Washington scrapped the proposed missile shield, Russia would not proceed with the threatened deployment of nuclear missiles near the Polish border.

But, asked whether Russia would take concrete steps to signal its readiness to work with the United States, Ivanov said: "It is not an oriental bazaar and we do not trade the way people do in a bazaar."

He was speaking after a meeting with Biden earlier on February 8.

Ties between Russia and the United States have grown increasingly strained in recent years.

Russia's brief war with Georgia last year and its recognition of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were sharply condemned by the United States.
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