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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. counterpart Barack Obama will issue
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. counterpart Barack Obama will issue joint declarations on bilateral relations and strategic arms reduction at their upcoming meeting in London, a presidential aide said on Saturday.

"We will have two presidential statements - on Russian-U.S. relations generally, but also on START. The texts are shaping up nicely and should become the starting point for our future work," Sergei Prikhodko told journalists prior to the two leaders first-ever meeting on April 1 on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-I) expires in December and the Russian and U.S. president are expected to resume talks on a follow-up to the treaty. Moscow has linked it to U.S. missile shield plans for Europe, which it vehemently opposes.

The presidential aide told journalists the much anticipated meeting between Medvedev and Obama would be a chance for the leaders to "synchronize watches," take stock and turn a new page in bilateral relations, which, following a recent meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers, have already been dubbed "reset."

However, Prikhodko said there were no "illusions" that the issues between the two countries would be easy to solve, "We are aware that to some degree the first meeting contains a 'tentative aspect.' Each side will arrive with their own priorities, accents, ideas on foreign policy."

But he said there is an understanding that a new opportunity for Russia-U.S. ties exists which should not be thrown away, "We expect London to be an important milestone on this path."

A priority for Russia is plans by the U.S. to deploy its controversial missile shield in Central Europe. Prikhodko said that Medvedev would discuss the issue with Obama and will again offer to set up a joint system "to monitor missile threats from a southern direction."

Russia has offered the United States the use of its radar stations in southern Russia and Azerbaijan as alternatives to the U.S. missile shield, which Moscow considers a threat to its national security.

Moscow strongly opposes the possible deployment by the U.S. of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its security and nuclear deterrence. Washington says the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from "rogue states."


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