Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Russia 'positive' on US approach

US Vice-President Joe Biden and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov in Munich
Joe Biden met Sergei Ivanov on the fringes of a security forum

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has welcomed the US promise to "press the reset button" in their relationship as a "very positive" move.

He met US Vice-President Joe Biden at a security conference in Munich, a day after Mr Biden made the comment in a speech about US foreign policy.

Mr Biden had spoken of a dangerous drift in Russia-Nato relations.

The meeting is the highest-level talks between US and Russia since Barack Obama became US president in January.

"The US administration sent a very strong signal, which was heard, the signal that they are ready to resume US-Russian dialogue, to talk on all issues," Mr Ivanov said.

But he added: "It does not mean that we should agree on each and every issue, that is clear to both parties."

Working together

Mr Biden, in his keynote speech, had said it was time to revisit the many areas where Nato could and should be working with Russia.

Underlining his warning that there would be disagreements, Mr Biden said it was up to the former Soviet territory of Georgia to decide if it wanted to join Nato.

Moscow vehemently opposes any further Nato encroachment on former Soviet areas.

In his speech on Saturday, Mr Biden said: "It's time, to paraphrase President Obama, to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should work together."

It would not be possible for the US and Russia to agree on everything "but the United States and Russia can disagree and still work together where our interests coincide and they coincide in many places."

He added that the US would continue with its plans for a missile defence shield in Central Europe.

'Devil in the detail'

In terms of tone at least there is already a real improvement in US-Russian relations, the BBC's Rob Watson reports from the Munich conference.

But Mr Ivanov was quick to warn that it was early days and that the devil, as he put it, would be in the detail.

Some of that detail was already apparent, our correspondent says.

During the conference, Washington made clear its opposition to the idea of a Russian sphere of influence, while Mr Ivanov reiterated Moscow's long-standing objections to issues such as Nato expansion and missile defence.

So, despite the improved mood music there is a sense that Moscow and the new administration in Washington are still very much testing each other out, our correspondent says.

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