Tags: positive | russia | clinton

Hillary Calls for 'Positive Start' with Russia

Monday, 16 Feb 2009 02:50 PM

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ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska, – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday she hopes for a "positive start" with Russia.

"We are hoping for a positive start with Russia," Clinton told reporters during a refueling stop in Alaska on her way to Asia, her first overseas trip as chief US diplomat.

"I will be meeting with (Russian) Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in about two weeks," she confirmed, without naming the exact time and place.

"And that is part of an effort on behalf of this administration to engage on all levels with Russian counterparts. But we have made no decisions about anything."

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said earlier this week that Clinton would meet with Lavrov in Geneva in early March. Clinton is due to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels on March 5 that will not be attended by the Russians.

US lawmakers are set to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels next week for high-level talks on the war in Afghanistan and the alliance's relations with Russia, officials said.

Clinton confirmed speculation that she and Lavrov would discuss negotiations for a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires at the end of the year.

"We think there are tremendous opportunities to work with the Russians on nuclear proliferation, from the START treaty, which expires at the end of this year, on a range of concerns that we think connect us, particularly in respect to Afghanistan," she said.

The United States has been negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic to install 10 missile interceptors, which would not carry explosive warheads, and a radar system on their territories.

The move has angered Russia as it sees the system as a threat to its security, while Washington argues the proposed shield is only directed at "rogue states," primarily Iran.

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