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Home News Obama to visit Russia to help improve ties: Kremlin

Obama to visit Russia to help improve ties: Kremlin

Published on 13/11/2012

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday accepted an invitation to visit Russia after agreeing to advance Washington's relations with Moscow following a tense year-long diplomatic spell.

The Kremlin said the US president and his counterpart Vladimir Putin shared a warm telephone conversation during which the Russian leader once again congratulated Obama with his re-election to a second term.

“The presidents confirmed their desire to advance bilateral relations in all areas, including the economic component,” Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

“Putin also wished his colleague luck in forming his new team” and invited Obama to pay a formal visit to Russia, the spokesman said.

“Obama expressed thanks for the congratulations and confirmed his readiness to make a trip to Russia in the future, after the dates are firmly agreed through diplomatic channels,” Peskov was quoted as saying.

Russia had been hoping to set up such a meeting in Moscow for several months but had only won promises from US officials to set up such a visit at some point at a later stage.

Analysts had said ahead of Tuesday’s closely-watched conversation that Putin would be hoping to secure a firm date from Washington.

But during the US election campaign, Obama had come under pressure from his Republican rival Mitt Romney to take a tougher stance on Russia over its human rights record after initially pursuing a so-called positive “reset” in relations in 2009.

Moscow openly cheered Obama’s victory and has expressed a willingness to work more closely with the White House following the deterioration in relations that came with Putin’s disputed return to a third term as president in May.

Russia has since witnessed the passage of tough legislation curbing the rights of opposition protesters and political organisations with financial links to the West.

Putin has also backed a stricter definition of treason that could theoretically result in the jailing of people who talk to foreigners.

The raft of contentious laws were passed quickly in response to angry charges from Putin that the US State Department had funded the surprise mass protests that shook Moscow this winter.

Putin had sparred repeatedly with the West during his two terms as president between in 2000-2008 and some had predicted another chill in Russia-US ties during the Kremlin chief’s new spell in power.

But Putin noted that Obama had worked closely with his predecessor Dmitry Medvedev — a lawyer by training who professed more liberal views — and should look to continue engaging Russia in the months and years to come.

The Kremlin said Putin told Obama in his first congratulatory message last week that he wanted to pursue “constructive mutual cooperation” with Washington.