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Russia Notes Positive Tone From Obama

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Kremlin has noted a positive tone in the first statements made by the Obama administration on Russian and international relations. And President Dmitri Medvedev has indicated Russian willingness to cooperate with NATO.

Speaking at a meeting in Moscow with representatives of non-governmental organizations, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the positive U.S. tone has been noted on the presidential and ministerial levels. He told the representatives the world is ready for change, and noted U.S. President Barack Obama came to power on a slogan of change.

Lavrov says Russia expects changes to reflect the new state of geopolitics, the global economy and finance. He said those changes should also reflect understanding of a need to create a polycentric system of global management, which would assure creative answers to common threats and challenges based on strict adherence to international law.

Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev says his country is interested in mutually advantageous and effective ties with NATO that are not aimed at other countries. In a televised meeting with Russia's NATO Ambassador, Dmitri Rogozin, Mr. Medvedev said a diverse Russia-NATO agenda could address political threats, various military conflicts, organized crime, and drug trafficking.

The Medvedev and Lavrov statements follow U.S.-Russian consultations this week on Afghanistan. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a statement Wednesday saying both sides held interagency talks on February 10 and 11 on many issues related to Afghanistan.

They include refurbishing infrastructure in Afghanistan; Russian assistance to the Afghan National Army; OSCE activities regarding Afghanistan; counternarcotics; Afghanistan presidential elections; and cooperation in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council, including the transit arrangements for non-lethal supplies through Russia to international forces in Afghanistan.

The embassy statement says both sides also agreed to continue cooperation and discussions in the future.