Obama 'confident' Russia talks will be productive

Even as Russian and U.S. representatives have drawn lines in the sand in recent days, President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Monday they are confident they can reach some agreement while Obama visits Russia.

In preparation for the trip, both countries appeared to harden their stance on the question of a missile defense system in Europe, a system Russia is squarely opposed to.

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An Obama administration official said last week that the president would give no "assurances" on the program. The sticking point comes as the two countries are working to create a new nuclear weapons framework to replace the START treaty, which expires in December.

Shortly before their first private meeting in Moscow, Medvedev said he and Obama will "have a full-fledged discussion of the relations between our two countries, closing some of the pages of the past and opening some of the pages of the future."

Obama said he is "confident that we can continue to build off the excellent discussions that we had in London, and that on a whole host of issues, including security issues, economic issues, energy issues, environmental issues, that the United States and Russia have more in common than they have differences, and that if we work hard during these next few days, that we can make extraordinary progress that will benefit the people of both countries."

The White House released a fact sheet Monday that listed a number of areas where the two presidents had reached agreement, beginning with signing a joint agreement "that commits both parties to a legally binding treaty that will reduce nuclear weapons."

The two presidents also agreed to cooperate in Afghanistan and signed "an agreement allowing transit of lethal supplies through Russia for our troops in Afghanistan."

According to the White House, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Undersecretary of State William Burns "concluded an agreement that will enable the United States to transport its military personnel and equipment across Russia to support American and Coalition forces in Afghanistan."

The agreement will allow for 4,500 flights per year and save the U.S. as much as $133 million a year in "fuel, maintenance and other transportation costs."

"By providing access to these transit routes, the Russian Federation is enabling a substantial increase in the efficiency of our common effort to defeat the forces of violent extremism in Afghanistan and to ensure Afghanistan’s and the broader region’s security," the White House said.

With cold and gloomy weather greeting Obama in Moscow, Medvedev joked that
"the weather favors such an intercourse between us — since it's going to be chilly outside, and it's better to work inside."

Obama joked that the last time he was in Moscow, the temperature outside was 80 degrees.