Page last updated at 06:29 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Clinton seeks better Russia ties

Hillary Clinton, 05/02
Mrs Clinton's first trip in her new role will be to Asia

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she hopes to have a "more constructive" relationship with Russia.

Mrs Clinton said she wanted to include Moscow as a "co-operative partner" on issues such as Iran's nuclear plans.

But she did not comment on Russia's announcement that it will start Iran's first nuclear plant by the end of 2009.

Separately, the state department said Mrs Clinton's first trip in her new role would be to Asia, taking in Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China.

In recent years, the US and Russia have clashed over issues from US plans to build a missile shield in central Europe to Russia's war in Georgia.

Following a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Mrs Clinton said: "On behalf of our mutual concerns regarding Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, we are going to use smart diplomacy together to engage the international community.

"We will do so including Russia as a co-operative partner because we intend to forge a more constructive relationship."

Nuclear talks

In a signal of how foreign policy could develop under Mrs Clinton, state department spokesman Robert Wood said her first trip would be to Asia and would begin on 15 February.

The US nuclear envoy to North Korea, Christopher Hill, will accompany her on the trip - with discussions over Pyongyang's nuclear programme expected to feature heavily in discussions with Asian leaders.

Talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions involve six nations - North and South Korea, Japan, China, the US and Russia.

Negotiations stalled late last year after the six countries failed to agree on how to verify Pyongyang's account of its nuclear activity.

"We all want to see how we can get the North Koreans to abide by their international obligations and to see how, through the six-party framework, we can get them to live up to those obligations," said Mr Wood.

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