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Co-chairs of a Russian-U.S. group said in Moscow on Friday
Co-chairs of a Russian-U.S. group said in Moscow on Friday that they expected to see progress in bilateral relations at an upcoming meeting between the two countries' presidents next month in London.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and his American counterpart Barack Obama are expected to meet for the first time in London on April 1, a day before G20 leaders meet to discuss ways of tackling the global economic downturn.

The Russia-U.S. A Look into the Future group is co-chaired by Henry A. Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state, and includes former U.S. defense secretary William Perry, and former Republican senator Sam Nunn.

"I'm happy to report that the differences were not so remarkable and the agreements were considerable," Kissinger said.

Kissinger said he had told Medvedev he hoped the Russian president's meeting with Obama would help improve ties.

"We believe in the generally optimistic attitude, and we hope ... that the meeting between you and our president will begin a new period in our relationship and will lead to concrete results," Kissinger said.

Yevgeny Primakov, the Russian co-chairman and former prime minister, described the meeting as "very productive."

Medvedev said earlier on Friday he hoped for a real fresh start in relations with Washington after his first meeting with the new U.S. leader.

Relations between Russia and the United States have been strained over Washington's plans to deploy missile bases in Europe, NATO's expansion, and last year's war in Georgia.

Russia has expressed hope for improved ties with Obama, who has said he may put the missile shield plans on hold. Russia and the U.S. earlier agreed to start talks on a new version of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which expires in December.

Earlier this month, Medvedev received a delegation of former U.S. senators, members of a bipartisan commission on U.S.-Russia relations which was to make a report on their visit to Obama ahead of his meeting with the Russian leader.

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