The Russian news agency Novosti says that Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will meet shortly after the new American president is inaugurated in January, 2009.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to the Russian News Agency, that President-elect Obama had agreed in a telephone conversation with Mr. Medvedev on November 8 to “arrange a top-level meeting soon after President Obama’s inauguration.”
Russia President Dmitry Medvedev
Lavrov made the comment after a meeting in Moscow with U.S. Senator Richard Lugar on Thursday.
A U.S. State Department source told Peace and Freedom this is additional pressure on Mr. Obama from the Russian government.
Earlier this week, John Rood, the State Department’s top arms control official, said the Russian government is likely to “test the mettle” of Barack Obama and his administration by taking a tougher stance against U.S. missile defenses.
Within hours of Barack Obama’s election, Medvedev said he would deploy Iskander nuclear-armed missiles to eastern Europe unless the U.S. backed off its deal on missile defense for Poland and the Czech Republic. Medvedev later backed off that claim.
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)
China is also trying to be at the top of the Obama agenda:
Obama, U.S. Need Not Kowtow To China
MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will meet with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama shortly after the latter is inaugurated in Washington on January 20, the Russian foreign minister said on Thursday.
Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting in Moscow with U.S. Senator Richard Lugar on Thursday that Medvedev and Obama had agreed in a telephone conversation on November 8 to “arrange a top-level meeting soon after President Obama’s inauguration.”
He also added that Moscow was ready to discuss issues on which the two sides had differences in a frank and open manner.
“Russia is prepared for that and we hope that the new administration in Washington will also be ready to discuss any issue on the basis of mutual respect,” Lavrov said.
Russia-U.S. relations have been frayed by Washington’s plans to deploy elements of a missile shield to Central Europe, Russia’s five-day war with Georgia over South Ossetia in August, and NATO’s eastward expansion.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently said he expected Russia’s relations with the United States to improve after Obama takes office in January. His words were echoed by Medvedev.
Obama said earlier this month that he wanted to “reset” relations between Washington and an “increasingly assertive” Moscow. “They’re increasingly assertive. And when it comes to Georgia and their threats against their neighboring countries, I think they have been acting in a way that is contrary to international norms,” Obama told NBC’s Meet the Press.
“We want to cooperate with them where we can, and there are a whole host of areas particularly around nonproliferation of weapons and terrorism where we can cooperate, but we also have to send a clear message that they have to act in ways that are not bullying their neighbors,” Obama went on.