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8 May, 2009 10:59

Russia and U.S. should raise relations to "quality new level" - Sergey Lavrov

Barack Obama says Russia and the U.S. have a great chance to turn a new page. The American president has been meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Washington.

Obama said that Russia and the U.S. “have an excellent opportunity to reset the relationship” on a whole range of issues. Among them, he mentioned nuclear weapons, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran, and the Middle East.

The president said that commercial ties and tackling financial crises are also on the agenda of the sides' relations.

In return, the Russian Foreign Minister said that Russia appreciates the positive U.S. attitude and the desire to “develop a constructive relationship.”

”It was important to get a signal that the U.S. has made its strategic choice, and intends to stop the drift in our relations,” Lavrov said.

He also pointed that Russia sticks to a "very pragmatic businesslike way on the basis of the common interests whenever our positions coincide, and on the basis of respect to each other whenever we have disagreements."

During his visit, Lavrov also met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Among the issues discussed, was the supply of weapons by Russia to Iran, said the Russian Minister.

"All that we sell to Iran or other countries does not fall under any international or national bans," Lavrov said. "All weapons that we sell to Iran are only defensive. All our actions in the sphere of military technical cooperation with Iran are absolutely legal."

Stressing that no Russian weapon sold to Iran have ever been used against any other country, he said that "the weapons that were sold to Georgia were used for killing Russians, killing civilians and killing Russian peacekeepers that were staying there in accordance with the international agreement signed by Georgia."

Lavrov pointed out that these weapons were sold to Georgia despite Russia’s warning that “it is dangerous to arm this specific regime.”

Despite disagreements, however, the sides agreed that Russia and the U.S. should fully normalize their relations.

"It's important for Russia and the U.S. to implement an agenda that will be encouraging for their relations, to normalize them, to rid them of the bad legacy of the past, and to raise them to a quality new level," Lavrov said. 

"We want to normalize the relationship and raise it to a new level," Hillary Clinton confirmed.

Meanwhile, some experts believe that Russia and the United States have to solve the anti- missile defense dispute before they can get down to other business.

“Certainly, the missile defense system is one of the obstacles, because you can not seriously discuss the reduction of strategic arms if you don’t agree onthe missile defense aspects,” said Yury Rogulyov from the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation at Moscow State University. “One of the possible compromises would be Russian participation in this project, which would include the Russian radar stations in the Southern part of Russia – in Armavir – and the Russian radar station in Azerbaijan. I think it will be possible. This administration is much more positive concerning Russian – American relations.”