Russian, US leaders to meet after Putin’s Inauguration

Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama have agreed to meet soon after Putin is sworn in on May 7, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Kommersant FM radio on Tuesday.

“Obama called Putin and they had a substantial discussion on key aspects of Russian-American relations and agreed to hold a direct meeting soon after the Russian president’s inauguration,” Lavrov said.

The telephone conversation between Obama and Putin took place on March 10.

Putin won the March 4 presidential election in Russia by a substantial majority.

Lavrov also said that despite differences with U.S. partners on the so-called European missile shield, Russia is ready to continue talks on the issue.

“We are not closing doors for talks, but want to professionally and honestly continue them without avoiding direct questions,” he said.

Negotiations between Russia and Western nations on the U.S.-led missile defense project have deadlocked over the West’s reluctance to give Moscow guarantees the project would not threaten Russia’s security.

President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier on Tuesday that Russia should be ready to respond by 2017-2018 to the deployment of a missile shield in Europe, but that the country remains willing to continue discussions.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile shield during the NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon in November 2010. NATO insists, however, there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with full-scale interoperability.


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