Russian, U.S. Presidents to Continue ‘Reset’

Russian and U.S. presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama on Wednesday agreed in their telephone conversation to continue the “reset” in the relations between their countries, the White House said in a statement.

“The two Presidents reiterated their interest in the sustained high-level dialogue that has characterized the reset of relations, and the substantial progress of the last three years on issues like nuclear security and non-proliferation, Afghanistan, the WTO, and increased trade and commercial ties,” the White House said.

“President Obama and President Putin noted with satisfaction the concrete achievements of the last three years and expressed their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation on the basis of mutual strategic interests,” the statement said.

The two leaders also “commemorated the occasion of Russia’s celebration of Victory in Europe day, noting the historic war-time alliance between our two countries and underscoring their mutual commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Russian partnership.”

On Wednesday, the Kremlin reported that Putin and Obama congratulated each other on Victory Day and discussed the prospects of Russian-U.S. relations.

The White House also said Putin told his U.S. counterpart Obama on the phone that he would not attend the G8 summit at Camp David.

“Noting his responsibilities to finalize Cabinet appointments in the new Russian government, President Putin expressed his regret that he would be unable to attend the G8 Summit at Camp David on May 18-19,” it said.

“President Obama expressed his understanding of President Putin’s decision and welcomed the participation of Russian Prime Minister [Dmitry] Medvedev at the G8 Summit,” the White House said.

“President Obama and President Putin agreed to hold a bilateral meeting on the margins of the June 18-19, G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico,” it said.

So far, the key achievements of the much heralded U.S.-Russian “reset” of relations have been the new strategic arms reduction treaty (New START) and the agreement on the transit of NATO’s military cargoes to Afghanistan.

Putin was inaugurated as president for a third term on Monday after a convincing victory in the March elections marred by allegations of vote fraud. He served four years as prime minister after being forced to stand down by the Constitution in 2008, but remained by far Russia’s most powerful politician.

His return to the Kremlin was met by two days of protests, including prolonged clashes between police and demonstrators in downtown Moscow on the eve of his inauguration. Putin’s opponents accuse him of corruption and a crackdown on political freedoms.

 

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