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Obama En Route to Russia Summit

U.S. President Barack Obama has left Washington for Moscow - the first stop on an international journey that will also include the Group of Eight Summit in Italy and Mr. Obama first visit while in office to Africa.

President Obama will get down to business soon after his arrival in Moscow.

After a stop to lay a wreath at Russia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Mr. Obama will head to the Kremlin for a private meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

Arms control will likely top their agenda - specifically negotiations on an agreement to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expires at the end of this year.

But White House aides stress that President Obama believes that the U.S.-Russia relationship should be about far more than arms control.

In an interview with the Associated Press prior to his departure, the president spoke of his desire to break free of the last vestiges of the Cold War. He indicated he would like to see Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin - Russia's former president - do the same.

"Prime Minister Putin still has a lot of sway in Russia and I think it is important that even as we move forward with President Medvedev, that Putin understands that the old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russian relations are outdated," said president Obama.

White House officials say President Obama will also reach out to the Russian people.

Andrew Kuchins is a Russia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He says public opinion polls show that the American president is not as popular in Russia as he is in other parts of the world.

"It appears that according to those numbers that the Russians are the least receptive and most skeptical about positive change coming out of the Obama administration," said Andrew Kuchins.

During his visit to Russia, Mr. Obama is expected to spell out his views on U.S.-Russia relations in a Moscow speech. He will also meet with leaders of civil society and the political opposition.