U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized the positive aspects of the two countries' relationship as they met at the White House Thursday. They were preparing for Mr. Obama's summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow this July.
As they talked to reporters after meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama and the Russian foreign minister avoided the contentious issues that divide their countries.
The president said he looks forward to improving U.S.-Russian relations.
"As I have said before, I think we have an excellent opportunity to reset the relationship between the United States and Russia on a whole host of issues," said President Obama.
Despite disagreements over Georgia, U.S. missile defense in Europe and NATO expansion, the two officials' statements to reporters focused on the presidents' meeting in July. It will be Mr. Obama's first formal summit with his Russian counterpart. Lavrov brought the U.S. president a message of welcome.
"And I can convey to you once again that President Medvedev is really looking forward to meeting you in Moscow this July," said Sergei Lavrov.
Presidents Obama and Medvedev hope to consider a framework for a new strategic arms agreement during their summit.
The U.S. and Russia begin talks May 18 on a deal to replace the START-One strategic arms treaty, which runs out at the end of the year.
Lavrov met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier on Thursday.