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Obama says he has reached out to Russia

WASHINGTON - President Obama said yesterday that he has told Russia that reducing Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon would in turn lessen the need for a U.S.-planned missile-defense system in Eastern Europe that Moscow has opposed. But Obama said he sought no "quid pro quo" with Moscow.
He also said it is time for the U.S. to "reset or reboot" its relationship with Russia, a nod to the increasingly tense relations of recent years.
Answering questions at a picture-taking moment in his meeting with visiting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama was asked about a letter he sent to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev regarding a series of mutual security concerns, including U.S. plans for deploying U.S. missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.
"What I said in the letter is the same thing I've said publicly, which is that the missile defense that we have talked about deploying is directed towards not Russia, but Iran," Obama said. "That has always been the concern -- that you have potentially a missile from Iran that threatened either the United States or Europe."
Obama disputed a published report that said he characterized his letter as "quid pro quo" with Russia, which has opposed the missile-defense system. He said it was simply "a statement of fact."

He said that lessening Iran's commitment to nuclear weapons "reduces the pressure for, or the need for, a missile-defense system." But that, he said, does not diminish his commitment to ensure that Poland, the Czech Republic or other NATO members enjoy full U.S. support with respect to their security.
More broadly, Obama said he has had a good exchange with Russia's leadership.
"I've said that we need to reset or reboot the relationship there," he said. "Russia needs to understand our unflagging commitment to the independence and security of countries like a Poland or a Czech Republic. On the other hand, we have areas of common concern."
Obama said he wants a constructive U.S.-Russia relationship "based on common respect and mutual interests."

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