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7 May, 2009 21:05

Russia and the U.S. at their closest in years

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has just finished meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

Earlier during a meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton, the two agreed that the main task for both countries is raising their relationship to the next level.

The discussion with Clinton, which covered a number of long-lasting, thorny issues like missile defense in Europe and nuclear non-proliferation, still proved to be “productive”, according to the Russian Foreign Minister.

Hillary Clinton also praised the results of the meeting, saying Russia and the U.S. need to concentrate on cooperation rather than disputes. One of the particularly hopeful areas, according to Clinton, is nuclear non-proliferation.

“We are committed and looking forward. It is, I think, old thinking to say we have a disagreement in one area and therefore we shouldn’t work on something else. If you look at what we’re doing in non-proliferation, that has to do with the future safety of the world, and the United States and Russia bear special responsibility. So we are working very hard together.”

Moscow and Washington have agreed on new moves to lower the chances of nuclear proliferation.

“Russia and the U.S., as the largest nuclear states, must head the non-proliferation work, setting an example for others,” Lavrov said.

The sides have also exchanged opinions on the situation in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran.

“We have unilateral sanctions against Iran adopted by the U.S. and the European Union, in addition to UN sanctions. We don’t think these are helping to achieve our common goal in Iran and we’re telling our partners that these unilateral sanctions are hindering our common efforts there,” Lavrov said.

During the talks, a date for a meeting between President Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama has been set. It will be announced within a few days.

The Russian Foreign Minister expressed hope that barriers to resuming work at the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) will be eliminated in the near future and that “this important structure will resume its work on the basis of the principles that were agreed on when it was created”.

Apart from this, Washington and Moscow plan cooperating on problems related to the Arctic territory, fighting piracy, and recovering from the ongoing global financial crisis.