White House says reset of relations with Russia has been successful

U.S. efforts to “reset” its relationship with Russia have led to “very positive results” despite the latest tensions over Moscow's support for Bashar Assad's government in Syria, President Obama's spokesman for national security issues said Friday.

“The reset with Russia is based on the belief that we can cooperate with them on areas of common interest, understanding that we still have some differences,” said Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes. “And I think we continue to see very positive results from that reset policy.”

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Rhodes mentioned NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that pass through Russia, support for sanctions on Iran, joint efforts to lock down nuclear materials around the world and the recently signed New START nuclear disarmament treaty. Rhodes made the comments at a briefing ahead of next week's G20 meeting in Mexico, where Obama will meet with Vladimir Putin for the first time since he reclaimed the Russian presidency in March.

“We're able to work with the Russians and cooperate on a set of issues, even though we have differences,” Rhodes added. “And it's our view that, just because you have differences on certain issues, doesn't mean you want to throw aside the very substantial cooperation that we're getting with the Russians on issues from Afghanistan, to Iran and nuclear security.”

Still, he said, Russian support for Syria is a “very substantial difference.”

Republicans have pounced on this week's news that Russia has provided Syria with attack helicopters as further proof that the “reset” is a failure.

“The president does need to get tough with Putin (when he meets with him) because we've seen that the reset that the president had hoped with Russia has not succeeded,” Armed Services Committee Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) told MSNBC this week.

And GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has famously called Russia “our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”