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7 May, 2009 09:05

Lavrov goes on “reset” mission to US

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is in the US, where he is to meet President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and other US officials. His goal is to advance “resetting” relations between the two countries.

Sergey Lavrov will try to make the best use of this window of opportunity, which was opened after Hillary Clinton’s visit to Moscow in March, when she presented a symbolic button, and suggested radical repair of the relations between Moscow and Washington.

One of the most acute problems on the agenda is the situation in Georgia, where the conflict between the government and opposition protesters sparked into violence on Wednesday. The US support of the country and NATO’s war games currently underway there are a matter of great concern for Russia and its allies.

“During my visit to Washington, I intend to discuss all the spectrum of cooperation in the framework of the Russia-NATO council. We’ll discuss the alarming situation in the Transcaucasia region, which sees no resolution, firstly due to the provocative actions of the Georgian leadership,” Lavrov told the media before his trip.

The area where Russia and the US have closer positions is disarmament. One of the core treaties limiting strategic arsenals of the two countries, START-I, is due to expire this year, and both sides have an understanding that a replacement must be put in its place.

The biggest obstacle is the US project of placing a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Russia views it as a threat to its military capabilities rather than a security measure to protect Europe from Iranian missiles, as the US insists.

“All agreements between Russia and the US, between the Soviet Union and the United States, were always based on the fact that an Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was in place. Ever since the US withdrew from it, the balance was tipped,” Russia’s top diplomat said in an interview to Euronews TV channel.

Both the Russian and American presidents confirmed their commitment to renew and expand the arms limitation agreement, and part of Lavrov’s visit will be dedicated to bilateral consultations on the issue.

He will also discuss the future visit of the US president to Moscow. Barack Obama is to come to Russia in June for a full-fledged summit.

From Washington, Lavrov will travel to New York to take part in a session of the UN Security Council and meet several officials, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and heads of the foreign ministries of several countries.