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Senior U.S. senator sees 'historic' chance for Obama, Medvedev


MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama have an "historic opportunity" to work together on common problems, a senior U.S. senator said in Moscow on Tuesday.

Democrat Carl Levin led a delegation from the U.S.-Russia Inter-Parliamentary Group to Moscow for talks with officials including Mikhail Margelov, the head of the Russian Federation Council's foreign affairs committee.

"This is an historic opportunity because we have a new president in the United States, who met President Medvedev," the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman told journalists. "They came away with a positive feeling about the opportunity for our two countries to work together on common problems,"

"At a time when there is a 'reset' in Russian-American relations, an especially important role has fallen to us to," Margelov said.

Levin singled out the threat of nuclear proliferation as a major challenge, particularly with regard to North Korea and Iran, linking the threat to missile defense and suggesting the countries could work together on the issue.

"We spoke about... the possibility of working with Russia on a missile defense system which could give us some protection against missiles from whatever source, and of course particularly if there was a potential for a nuclear warhead to be on that missile," he said.

Levin said that the senators left with the hope that there could be discussions on "providing a missile defense against common threats, such as exist in North Korea already and which potentially could come from Iran if it moves toward a nuclear weapon."

Senator Bill Nelson, the chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces, also stressed the threat from Iran.

"This is a new era of cooperation between our two countries. We have a common goal, which is to deter Iran from becoming a nuclear armed nation," the Florida Democrat said.

"We also have a number of common things that we can work on - the stabilization of other parts of the world, such as Afghanistan and Somalia," he added.

Obama and Medvedev met for the first time before the April 1-2 G20 summit in London, after which they vowed "to move beyond Cold War mentalities and chart a fresh start."

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