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25 Mar, 2009 19:03

Obama wants to put US-Russian relations on a stronger footing

Barak Obama wants to improve U.S. links with Moscow, while maintaining consistency with NATO policies.

During his Tuesday meeting in Washington with NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, U.S. President Barak Obama spoke about improving U.S.-Russian ties while maintaining consistency with NATO policies.

So far, the Obama administration has been consistent in saying they want to renew their relationships with Russia by pushing the so-called ‘restart button’. Russia has also followed the same line saying that it is open to this. However, obstacles still exist.

The main impediment is the idea of bringing both Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, and this issue seems to be the source of a certain inconsistency within the Obama administration. With today’s statement, it seems like the President, himself, has not chosen either side of the issue.

On the one hand, he said he was looking forward to renewing the U.S.-Russian relationship, while on the other was his notice that NATO-aspiring nations should have the opportunity to join the alliance.

“This administration, my administration, is seeking a re-set of the relationship with Russia, but in a way that's consistent with NATO membership and consistent with the need to send a clear signal throughout Europe that we are going to continue to abide by the central belief that countries who seek and aspire to join NATO are able to join NATO,” the AP quotes his words as saying.

De Hoop Scheffer supported Obama's stance on Russia and said NATO and Russia needed each other, despite “many things on which we disagree”.

“Let us realise that, also, this relationship can, and in my opinion should, be strengthened,” he said.

Having met ahead of the NATO's 60th anniversary next month, Obama and De Hoop Scheffer have also discussed the alliance’s effectiveness in the fight against Islamic militants in Afghanistan. On Friday, the Obama administration is expected to unveil its revamping of U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.