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Russian FM Optimistic About Relations With US

Russia's foreign minister said his country's relationship with the United States is "moving in the right direction."

Sergei Lavrov's comments Saturday were the latest from Russian officials following the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in London on April 1.

Both leaders agreed to renew talks on limiting long-range nuclear weapons, and Lavrov said he is cautiously optimistic about relations with Washington.

Lavrov also praised what he called Mr. Obama's willingness to cooperate with the Islamic world, saying it could help solve numerous problems.

Still, Lavrov expressed several concerns in regard to NATO, which he called an organization in crisis.

He also said it would be unfair to ask Russia to intensify pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

Lavrov said last year's war between Russia and Georgia showed how "dangerous" it would be for NATO to continue to expand eastward. However, he said the Russia-NATO council could provide the framework for greater regional cooperation.

He also said Iran can play an important role in settling problems in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East and made it clear that Russia does not want to take a harder line with Tehran.

Many Western countries have accused Iran of pursuing nuclear technology in order to make nuclear weapons. While Russia agrees Tehran should not have nuclear weapons, it is helping Iran build a nuclear power plant.

Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.

Lavrov also used his speech Saturday at the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow to propose the idea of a global security conference to be held in Russia.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.