An assistant shows the mock "reset" button which U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handed to Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a bilateral meeting in Geneva March 6, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
MOSCOW, March 7 (Xinhua) -- In a series of positive signals to Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited Russia to join Washington's missile defense plans on Friday in Brussels, and she subsequently met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva in a bid to reset bilateral ties.
Although relations between the former Cold War foes
have seen considerable improvement since U.S. President Barack Obama took office
in January, analysts believe it still takes time to further ease the tension.
PRESS RESET BUTTON
Weeks ago at the Munich Conference on Security
Policy, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden declared the Obama administration's
intention to press "the reset button" in U.S.-Russia relations.
In a symbolic gesture, Clinton gave Lavrov a red
"reset" button on Friday before their first meeting in Geneva, implying that
they would seek a "fresh start" for bilateral relations.
"I would like to present you with a little gift that
represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying
and that is, we want to reset our relationship and so we will do it together,"
Clinton said she and Lavrov had "a very productive
meeting of the minds on the range of issues" expected to be broached in future
The talks on arms control and non-proliferation,
given priority on the agenda, were "very practical" and "very specific," she
Both sides should take the lead in global arms
control, which will lay a "position" on the issue for the first meeting between
Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a London summit in April, she
The top diplomats agreed to strike a new deal by the
end of this year to replace the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Clinton also thanked Russia for allowing the United States to transit
non-military supplies to Afghanistan via its borders.
"We agreed that on all questions, including those on
which we have differences, we will work in the spirit of partnership, honestly
and openly," Lavrov said.
In fact, Russia's agreement to allow transit routes
for cargo bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan, and the positive signals from
the Obama administration are two catalysts for the recent changes, foreign
policy analyst Ivan Safranchuk was quoted as saying by the weekly The Moscow
REVISED MISSILE DEFENSE PROPOSALS
Just hours before Clinton's meeting with Lavrov, she
invited Russia to join Washington's plans to base a missile shield in Eastern
Europe, indicating that the Obama administration might not drop the Bush-era
"We believe that Russia and the United States have
the opportunity to cooperate on missile defense -- to do joint research and
joint development. And even eventually assumingly we can reach such an agreement
(on) joint deployment," Clinton told reporters in Brussels.
Former U.S. administration of George W. Bush planned
to place 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech
Republic which it claimed to protect its European allies from missile threat by
The U.S. plan has met strong objections from Moscow,
which insists that the missile defense system, if deployed, will pose a threat
to Russia's national security. Medvedev, in his address last November,
threatened to counter those deployment with offensive Iskander missiles in its
Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, which is sandwiched by Poland and Lithuania.
Both Moscow and Washington have recently expressed
their willingness to mend bilateral relations, which have deteriorated to a
post-Cold War low due to an array of rows, including the U.S. missile defense
Russia hopes the new U.S. administration will take a
more creative and friendly attitude toward its missile shield plans, Medvedev
told Spanish media ahead of his visit to Madrid earlier this month.
In a latest cautious response to the United States,
Russian prime minister's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Moscow stood
ready to discuss with the United States revised proposals for its missile
"If the United States somehow reviews its original
plan on deploying this shield in Europe or if we actually receive some concrete
counteroffer from the United States, which takes into account Moscow's
interests, then we will view this as an excellent sign, as this is what we have
been talking about from the very start," Peskov said in an interview with the
Voice of Russia radio.
It remains unclear whether Moscow is satisfied with
the new U.S. missile defense proposals, analysts say, noting that Russia remains
opposed to the deployment of a missile shield near its territory.
"We have to work together and create a common shield
against all threats. We would like a new structure for all Europeans. The United
States and Europe would negotiate on that, but it would have to be global and
not fragmented around the Russian frontier," Medvedev said during his visit to
Despite all the positive signals, the Kremlin and the
White House are still at odds over a number of issues, including Kosovo, Georgia
and Iran's nuclear issue, so the chances for a recent thaw in Russian-U.S.
relations are slim, analysts say.
U.S. invites Russia to join its missile defense plan in Eastern Europe
BRUSSELS, March 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday invited Russia to join Washington's plan to deploy a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.
"We believe that Russia and the United States have the opportunity to cooperate on missile defense -- to do joint research and joint development. And even eventually assumingly we can reach such an agreement (on) joint deployment," Clinton told reporters in Brussels. Full story
Clinton, Lavrov differ over Kosovo
GENEVA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday voiced their different positions over Kosovo.
Speaking to a press conference after their first meeting in the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, Clinton said she congratulated Kosovo leader over the "first year" of Kosovo independence, while Lavrov warned that Kosovo's unilateral announcement of independence posed "danger" to stability in the Balkan region. Full story
U.S., Russia intend to reach new arms control deal this year
GENEVA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The United States and Russia intend to reach a new arms control agreement by the end of this year to replace the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II), U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here on Friday.
Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov held talks on Friday in Geneva, and START II was on "top agenda" at the meeting. Full story
Clinton pledges to re-energize ties with Europe
BRUSSELS, March 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday pledged that the Obama administration would re-energize the transatlantic relationship, strained during the Bush era.
"President Obama and I intend to energize the transatlantic relationship and to promote a strong European Union (EU), and more fundamentally a strong Europe," Clinton told reporters after talks with key EU officials. Full story
Official: Russia hopes for cooperation with NATO
MOSCOW, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Russia is ready to carry out practical cooperation with NATO on the platform of the Russia-NATO Council when confidence is restored, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.
"Russia and NATO members may have different views on events in Europe and the world. This is normal," spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement on results of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. Full story