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Waiting for Solutions

March 1, 2009

Russia is awaiting new proposals from the United States to resolve a dispute on missile defense that has chilled ties between the two Cold War ex-foes; President Dmitry Medvedev was quoted Sunday as saying.

The Russian president is waiting for his US counterpart to make a moveImage: AP

Medvedev's comments were among the most upbeat yet by Moscow on the chance of an improvement in ties under new US President Barack Obama after the missile defense row and Georgia war sent relations to a post-Soviet low.

Moscow has reacted furiously to plans by the former administration of George W. Bush to place missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying the move was directly aimed against Russia.

"I am counting on the new US administration behaving on this question in a more creative and friendly way," Medvedev said in an interview with Spanish media, the transcript of which was published on the Kremlin website.

"We have already received positive signals from our American colleagues. I am expecting that these signals will turn into concrete proposals," he added.

Medvedev said he hoped that this issue would be discussed in his first meeting with Obama, expected to take place on the sidelines of the meeting of G20 countries in London on April 2.

The Russian president had warned last year Russia would deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave wedged between NATO and EU members Poland and Lithuania if Washington did not withdraw the missile shield plan.

The Bush administration said its plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic and install interceptor missiles in Poland were not directed against Russia but aimed at countering missile threats from states such as Iran.

"Russia does not like this, that is absolutely clear," said Medvedev.

Medvedev urges US to face threats with Russia

Former US President George W. Bush, left, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
Medvedev said Bush was immovable on the missile shieldImage: AP

He said it was undeniable that there were threats to international security in the world. "But let us react to these threats together, without isolating each other from these processes."

Medvedev complained that the Bush administration's attitude had been "very simple: 'We are doing this because we have decided it that way.'"

Russian officials have repeatedly expressed optimism for the prospects for ties under Obama, although the new US president has yet to give much detail on his plans for Russia policies.

However a pattern could emerge in the near future, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to have her first face-to-face meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next week.

Russia's war in Georgia in August over the breakaway region of South Ossetia sent relations between Russia and the West plummeting to lows not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

US Vice President Joe Biden declared at a security conference last month it was time to "press the reset button" in relations and "revisit the many areas where we can and should work together."

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