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Obama asks Russia to help with Iran, offers to forgo missiles

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s push to reset U.S.-Russian relations took a huge stride when he signaled the Kremlin he might forgo an anti-missile system in Eastern Europe if Moscow uses its clout with a troublesome Iran and its nuclear ambitions.

The back-channel diplomatic gambit was one of the few tools Obama had for unknotting the stalemated relationship — one that suffered under former Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin.

Details of the Obama proposal, a letter responding to one from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, have not been disclosed, but the U.S. president has clearly enticed the Kremlin into a dialogue that could pay significant benefits to both sides.

Though Medvedev said the two leaders were not negotiating a quid pro quo, improved relations rest on a deal that bundles the proposed missile shield and Iran, where Moscow holds considerable sway.

Obama concurred there had been no blatant trade offer.

2008, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.