Clinton, Lavrov optimistic ahead of talks in Moscow

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said ahead of a meeting with Russia's foreign minister on Tuesday that progress has been made in bilateral ties, and that the sides expect productive talks, RIA-Novosti reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meet in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009. (AFP Photo)

The top U.S. diplomat will meet with Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, and later with President Dmitry Medvedev.

Speaking to reporters with Lavrov, she said the talks would focus on "important matters we are working on globally."

Since the "reset" in relations with Russia, following the tensions of recent years, "we're moving forward which I greatly welcome," she said.

Lavrov said: "We have prepared for this meeting for a long time, but I think that the work carried out by our ministry will allow us to productively hold the first round of strategic talks through the commission set up by our presidents."

"We will be able to discuss key international issues, as well as the bilateral agenda. I expect fruitful discussions," he said.

Among the key issues on the agenda are arms reduction and Iran's nuclear program.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russia's Dmitry Medvedev agreed in July in Moscow on the outline of a deal to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1), which expires on December 5.

The United States has been seeking Russia's support in international efforts to pressure Iran to end its nuclear energy program, which Western powers suspect is a cover for a weapons program.

Source: AFP

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