Related News

Home » World

Obama seeks Russia's 'partnership'

WORKING to turn Russia from antagonist to ally, United States President Barack Obama asked the Russian people yesterday to "forge a lasting partnership" with the US, but he acknowledged after talks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that on divisive issues there won't be "a meeting of the minds anytime soon."

Obama was wrapping up a two-day stay in Russia, during which he and President Dmitry Medvedev said they were determined by year's end to negotiate a new nuclear arms treaty that would slash both country's arsenals by about one-third.

After breakfast at Putin's country home, Obama sped back to central Moscow to tell the graduating class of the prestigious New Economic School that the US and Russia were not "destined to be antagonists."

Before leaving for Russia, Obama said Putin had "one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new." After breakfast with Putin, he said: "I found him to be tough, smart, shrewd, very unsentimental, very pragmatic. And on areas where we disagree, like Georgia, I don't anticipate a meeting of the minds anytime soon."

Putin, the former Russian president, also spoke warmly of his country's hopes for improved US ties with Obama in the White House.

"With you, we link all our hopes for the furtherance of relations between our two countries," he said.

The White House had hoped to reach a broader Russian audience with Obama's speech, but it was not widely available on television.

Obama used his speech to argue that the US shares compelling interests with Russia. "Let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia," he said.

His upbeat comments showed Obama's determination to turn around public opinion in Russia, where polls show people are wary of the US and take a skeptical view of Obama too.

He said Russian and US interests largely overlap in halting the spread of nuclear weapons, confronting violent extremists, ensuring economic prosperity, advancing the rights of people and fostering cooperation without jeopardizing sovereignty.

But he also sprinkled in challenges to Russia, particularly in the area of democracy. US officials are wary of Russia's increasingly hard-line stand on dissent.

"By no means is America perfect," Obama said. But he also said: "Independent media have exposed corruption at all levels of business and government. Competitive elections allow us to change course ... If our democracy did not advance those rights, I as a person of African ancestry wouldn't be able to address you as an American citizen, much less a president."

On Georgia and Ukraine - two nations that have sought NATO membership to the chagrin of neighboring Russia - Obama tried a diplomatic touch: "NATO seeks collaboration with Russia, not confrontation."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend