Medvedev and Obama talk START, Iran

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has met his American counterpart Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific forum in Singapore. The two leaders focused on a new nuclear arms reduction agreement and other issues.

After the meeting, Medvedev said that the sides will hopefully sign the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty by December 2009. The old one expires on December 5.

“We have spent a large amount of time discussing the strategic arms cuts treaty and we have agreed that the talks must be given an additional impetus,” Russian president said.

“Certain moments remain, which need to be settled, and some of them are of technical, and others of political nature,” he added.

Obama said, in turn, that the new arms treaty was one of the most important issues discussed with the Russian president.

“Our goal continues to be to complete the negotiations and to be able to sign the deal before the end of the year,” the US president said after the meeting with his Russian counterpart on Sunday, adding, “Both sides are trying to work through some difficult technical issues but are doing so in good faith.”

The presidents have also discussed recent developments around Iran’s nuclear program. Dmitry Medvedev pointed out that the US and Russia can apply “other means” besides talks, if Iran does not provide an answer to its nuclear program.

“If we fail to come to terms, other means remain available for pushing the process on otherwise,” the Russian president said.

The goal of the negotiating process with Iran is to secure clear guarantees from Iran regarding the “transparency of its nuclear program that would not arouse concerns in the world community,” Medvedev added.

Both sides expressed content with the character of Sunday’s talks.

US President Barack Obama said that the “reset” in relations has worked for the countries. Medvedev in turn said that his talks with Obama proceeded in a “comradely atmosphere.”

That went quite in tune with prior expectations from the negotiations expressed by some Russian top officials.

Ahead of talks, Russian presidential aide Sergey Prikhodko said that Russia is pleased with the current dynamics in the countries’ relations.

“We are satisfied at present with the nature of the open, pragmatic and future-oriented dialogue that is developing with the new administration. It allows us to hope for the continuation of the joint progress on issues where solutions have not yet been found,” he added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also pointed out that both sides are committed to improving bilateral relations.

“We feel the desire of Barack Obama and his team to put into practice the policy orientation he voiced during his election campaign,” he said.

“The two presidents absolutely agree that we should overcome the stagnation in relations between Moscow and Washington that was observed during the Bush administration, when good personal relations did not transform in any way into something really partnership-like,”
Lavrov added.