US President Barack Obama says Russia and America have an ‘excellent opportunity’ to improve relations.
While mentioning several areas of cooperation, nuclear security and a new weapons reduction treaty are seen as key issues both sides can make progress on. Obama’s comments came as he welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “We have an excellent opportunity to reset the relationship between the United States and Russia on a whole host of issues: from nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, how we approach Iran, how we approach the Middle East,” Obama said. Lavrov also pledged to try to narrow disagreements. “We work in a very pragmatic, business-like way on the basis of the common interest whenever our positions coincide, and on the basis of respect to each other whenever we have disagreements, trying to narrow those disagreements for the benefit of our countries and the international stability”. But, in addition to tensions over Georgia, the US desire to put parts of its missile defence shield in eastern Europe still remains an area of contention.