Russian senator hails Obama’s flexibility in foreign policy

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : US President Barack Obama, in his first 100 days in office, has demonstrated flexibility in foreign policy and a willingness to use dialogue rather than confrontation, a senior Russian senator said Tuesday.

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Mikhail Margelov, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s foreign affairs committee, said the new US administration was not rushing to integrate the ex-Soviet states of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO or to deploy its controversial missile defence shield in Central Europe.

“President Obama is striving to solve these issues in (US-Russian) relations through dialogue,” Margelov said.

Moscow has been at loggerheads with Washington over plans to deploy a missile defence system in Central Europe. The US earlier signed agreements with the Czech Republic on hosting a radar station and with Poland on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles by 2013.

Russia says the missile shield would be a threat to its national security while the US has argued it is necessary to guard against the threat of missile attacks from states such as Iran.

Top Russian officials have repeatedly expressed their hope that the new US administration will not follow through with the plans, and President Dmitry Medvedev said following talks with US President Barack Obama in London earlier this month that both countries would make every effort “to find a way out of this difficult situation”.

Margelov also said that a working group between the Russian Federation Council and the US Senate will take place at the end of May to discuss joint US-Russian projects, which according to him is required after both countries have new leaders.

“We will try to deliver the results of our inter-parliamentary meeting to the leaders of our countries before (Obama’s visit) to Moscow,” he said.

Obama plans to visit Russia in July.