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    Medvedev, Obama to meet 'soon after January 20 inauguration'

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    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will meet with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama shortly after the latter is inaugurated in Washington on January 20, the Russian foreign minister said on Thursday.

    MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will meet with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama shortly after the latter is inaugurated in Washington on January 20, the Russian foreign minister said on Thursday.

    Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting in Moscow with U.S. Senator Richard Lugar on Thursday that Medvedev and Obama had agreed in a telephone conversation on November 8 to "arrange a top-level meeting soon after President Obama's inauguration."

    He also added that Moscow was ready to discuss issues on which the two sides had differences in a frank and open manner.

    "Russia is prepared for that and we hope that the new administration in Washington will also be ready to discuss any issue on the basis of mutual respect," Lavrov said.

    Russia-U.S. relations have been frayed by Washington's plans to deploy elements of a missile shield to Central Europe, Russia's five-day war with Georgia over South Ossetia in August, and NATO's eastward expansion.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently said he expected Russia's relations with the United States to improve after Obama takes office in January. His words were echoed by Medvedev.

    Obama said earlier this month that he wanted to "reset" relations between Washington and an "increasingly assertive" Moscow. "They're increasingly assertive. And when it comes to Georgia and their threats against their neighboring countries, I think they have been acting in a way that is contrary to international norms," Obama told NBC's Meet the Press.

    "We want to cooperate with them where we can, and there are a whole host of areas particularly around nonproliferation of weapons and terrorism where we can cooperate, but we also have to send a clear message that they have to act in ways that are not bullying their neighbors," Obama went on.

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