Source AP ©

Dmitry Medvedev optimistic about relations with USA

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday he was "moderately optimistic" about relations with the United States, saying the Kremlin is prepared to work with whoever succeeds U.S. President George W. Bush.

Medvedev said Moscow and Washington must cooperate to maintain global stability - even if their views on U.S. plans to install missile defense sites in Europe, and other security issues, differ sharply.

"Russia and the United States are bound to cooperate on a wide range of international issues," Medvedev said at a media congress in Moscow. "We will work with any U.S. administration; there is no alternative to that. Our nations carry enormous responsibility for global order and maintaining peace and stability."

Russian-U.S. relations have been strained over Washington's plans to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, which the Kremlin sees as a threat to Russia's security. Washington also has strongly backed plans for NATO to incorporate Russia's ex-Soviet neighbors, Ukraine and Georgia - a move Moscow fiercely opposes.

Medvedev warned in a speech in Germany last week that NATO's further expansion eastward would ruin Russia's relations with the West.

Medvedev, hand-picked by former President Vladimir Putin to succeed him, is widely expected to continue the course of his predecessor and mentor, who has shifted into the prime minister's seat. While the president is responsible for setting foreign policy, many observers think Putin will retain a substantial say.

Medvedev said Wednesday that despite their differences, Russia and the U.S. have worked together successfully on combatting terrorism and weapons proliferation, and on other issues.

"No matter who comes to the White House, Russia expects a constructive and friendly dialogue with a new U.S. administration," Medvedev said. "I view our relations with moderate optimism."

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