Obama Continues Cautious Rebuilding of U.S.-Russia Relations
By Ben Pershing
If you can tear yourself away from "The Michael Jackson Memorial Orgy of Excess" on every network today, you might just catch a few tidbits of news from President Obama's ongoing visit to Russia, where he is trying cautiously to build better relations between the two powers.
Obama continued that incremental effort today, speaking at a graduation ceremony at the New Economic School. "Let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia," he said, while also lightening the mood with references to Alexander Ovechkin and the chilly Moscow weather. As he did during his famed speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, Obama prefaced criticisms of his hosts with acknowledgements of his own country's flaws. "By no means is America perfect," he said, before emphasizing the corrective powers of democracy and free speech.
Yesterday's agreement between Obama and Dimitry Medvedev on nuclear arms reductions got prominent play, leading many newspapers and even some TV networks that weren't already on full Jackson alert. But while coverage of the nuclear agreement itself was positive, most portrayals of the trip so far have been leavened with a dose of realism about what has and hasn't been accomplished. "The two sides took small steps toward scaling back their nuclear arsenals but left wide differences and lingering difficulties on other issues, such as Iran, missile defense, American military support to Russia's neighbors and human rights," the Los Angeles Times writes. Similarly, the Financial Times notes that while Obama and Medvedev "talked much about co-operating on Afghanistan, they barely said a word in public on Iran, where there are big gaps between their policies."
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