Obama 'hopeful' after Russia talks

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said Thursday he was "hopeful" of improving relations between the United States and Russia, as he held Oval Office talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Obama took the unusual step of holding a full meeting with the visiting foreign minister as he works to repair Moscow-Washington relations battered by a string of disputes late in the Bush administration, including over Georgia.

Obama 'hopeful' after Russia talks
"We have an excellent opportunity to reset the relationship between the United States and Russia on a whole host of issues," Obama said, after wide-ranging talks he said focused on Iran, nuclear proliferation, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Middle East, the financial crisis and other issues.
"I am hopeful that the meetings that we had so far and the meetings that we expect to have throughout the course of this year, will be of mutual benefit to both countries."
Lavrov, who earlier met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said that the two sides were working in a "pragmatic" and "businesslike" way, as they seek to conclude a follow-on to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) this year.
Obama is set to travel to Russia for talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in July.
The latest flare up in US-Russia relations came this week as Georgia was hit by a military mutiny hours before NATO began a month-long 1,100-troop exercise in the country. Moscow strongly opposes the maneuvers.
Tbilisi's pro-Western government has accused Russia of being behind the mutiny and a series of protests to oust Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Friday, May 8th 2009

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