Medvedev visit showcases warmer US-Russia ties

23rd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

President Barack Obama welcomes Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev to the White House Thursday, amid improved recent relations, including greater diplomatic cooperation and a landmark nuclear disarmament deal.

Medvedev's three-day visit -- the seventh meeting between the two leaders -- aims to further improve US-Russia ties and strengthen cooperation on economic issues and new technology.

Ben Rhodes, a spokesman for the White House national security adviser, told reporters that the Medvedev visit showcases "very substantial progress in re-setting the US-Russia relationship in a number of important and very substantive areas."

"We believe that this visit takes place at a new phase in the US-Russia relations," Rhodes said.

April's long-awaited Cold War-era nuclear disarmament treaty signed in Prague signaled something of a renaissance in US-Russian relations, and Rhodes said closer ties are in the interest of both countries.

"The president's assessment was that when you stack up America's national security priorities -- non-proliferation, Iran, North Korea, terrorism, Afghanistan -- we had both much to gain from cooperating with Russia," he said.

Obama, Rhodes said, "set out a very deliberate and agressive way, to make it a top foreign policy for his administration to reset this relationship."

Cooperation increasingly has extended to the thorny area of crafting an international response to Iran's controversial nuclear program.

After months of US-led diplomacy, Russia this month backed a new UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said earlier this month however that Moscow was disappointed by additional US and EU unilateral measures against Iran, warning the moves could affect cooperation in the nuclear crisis.

Economic relations also are to play a key role during the Medvedev visit.

The Russian leader, who arrived in California late Tuesday, was to make a visit Wednesday to Silicon Valley, the birthplace of the high-tech revolution.

Apple, Google, Twitter, and Cisco were on his itinerary for the following day and he was also to make a speech at Stanford University.

"My purpose is not just to see what is going on there, it is not a guided tour," Medvedev said through an interpreter while chatting with Schwarzenegger at a San Francisco's hotel.

"I would like to have my visit be translated into full-fledged relations and into cooperation with those companies."

Before departing Russia, Medvedev said his country could use the experience of Silicon Valley to modernize, calling the high-tech hub "quite interesting" for future modernization projects in Russia.

One project Medvedev has singled out as a priority is the setting up of an innovation center in the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo, envisaging it as a Russian Silicon Valley.

The project aims to entice leading Russian and foreign scientists to focus their energies on nuclear and bio-medical technologies, energy and telecommunications.

After wrapping up his US visit, Medvedev is to take part in the Group of Eight and Group of 20 summits in Canada over the weekend.

© 2010 AFP

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