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Obama Wraps Moscow Visit With Message to Russian People

U.S. President Barack Obama wrapped up his stay in Moscow with another round of high-level meetings, and a message to the Russian people. President's next stop is the Group of Eight Summit in Italy.

The president's message in Moscow was consistent. Whether meeting with Russian leaders, or reaching out to the Russian people, he focused on the need to finally put aside the last vestiges of the Cold War.

His call for a fresh start got a positive response from Russian Prime Minister - and former president - Vladimir Putin, considered by many the most powerful man in Russia.

As he welcomed President Obama to his home on the outskirts of Moscow, Mr. Putin said Russia is pinning its hopes for better relations on the new American leader.

President Obama sounded optimistic.

"We think there is an excellent opportunity to put U.S.-Russian relations on a much stronger footing," he said.

President Obama then took his campaign to end years of tensions directly to the Russian people. He delivered the commencement address to graduates of Moscow's New Economic School - an institution founded immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The president talked about how the United States sees relations with its old Cold War adversary.

"To begin with, let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia. This belief is rooted in our respect for the Russian people, and a shared history between our nations that goes beyond competition," said Mr. Obama.

In the hours that followed, he took his message of a new era in relations to business executives, and to civic leaders involved in areas ranging from the environment to human rights.

"We not only need a reset button between the American and Russian government, but we need a fresh start between our societies," he said.

Russian President Demitri Medvedev accompanied Mr. Obama to the business meeting. But he did not attend the gathering with civil society leaders, or a subsequent session with members of the political opposition.