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Russia's Medvedev Urges Obama To Put Aside Differences


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on July 2 Washington and Moscow must set aside the power politics of the past and use a forthcoming summit to unite in tackling global economic and political problems.

President Barack Obama's first visit to Moscow next week is expected to demonstrate the first fruits of his and Medvedev's attempts to "reset" thorny relations, which reached post-Cold War lows under the previous U.S. administration.

At their first brief meeting in London on April 1, Medvedev and Obama committed themselves to cooperating on further nuclear arms cuts and on solving the conflict in Afghanistan where a U.S.-led international force is fighting the resurgent Taliban.

"The new U.S. administration headed by President Obama is now demonstrating readiness to change the situation, and build more effective...relations," Medvedev said in a video blog entry posted on his Kremlin website (www.kremlin.ru).

"We are ready for this," he added.

The two leaders are expected to pin down in Moscow the outline of a new arms control treaty, due to replace the START-1 pact expiring in December, and to finalize arrangements for the transit of lethal NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Russia.

"Now is not the time to discover who is in a more difficult position or who is tougher," Medvedev said in his video blog. "It is time to join efforts."

"We must improve our relations to solve multiple global problems through joint efforts," he added.

But analysts say that despite goodwill from both sides, the "resetting" of relations is unlikely to be an easy process with both sides having their own priorities and goals.

Anti-Missile Plans

"The Kremlin looks to the summit to help re-establish Russia's image as a great power and legitimize the political elite's status quo," analysts from the Carnegie Moscow center think-tank said in a discussion forum on July 2.

"For the United States, the summit is part of a broader attempt to engage more positively with Russia and gain greater co-operation on Iran and Afghanistan," it added.

Analysts say that hurdles, amplified by persistent mutual distrust, could overshadow work on a priority project like the new arms cuts pact.

Medvedev said last month Russia is ready for big cuts in strategic weapons if Washington reverses its plans to create a national anti-missile system and deploy parts of it in Eastern Europe.

Russia views the U.S. anti-missile plans in Europe as a threat to national security, while Washington insists they are aimed solely at averting a potential attack from Iran.

Good personal relations between Medvedev's predecessor, Vladimir Putin, and Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, persisted despite strains in U.S.-Russian ties. Medvedev made clear he wants a more solid basis for relations.

"It is absolutely unimportant who is the Russian or the U.S. president," he said.

"They will always carry a special responsibility for the decisions which they make, a responsibility to their nations and to the whole world," Medvedev said.
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