The overtures of Barack Obama to Moscow yielded their first results yesterday as he and the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, said they would pursue talks on a new arms deal to cut nuclear warhead arsenals below previously agreed levels.
American officials made it clear after a first meeting with Mr Medvedev on the eve of the G20 summit in London that Mr Obama would not, however, be seeking "some buddy-buddy relationship", making an oblique reference to George W Bush's remark following his first encounter with Vladimir Putin in 2002 that after looking into his eyes he was able "to get a sense of his soul".
Nor was there any pretence that all irritations in the relationship could be quickly resolved, including US disapproval of Russia's incursions into Georgia last year and Moscow's opposition to plans to bring Georgia and Ukraine into the Nato alliance.
But, even so, both sides sought to underline the importance of resuming the arms talks, which will form a core part of Washington's widely advertised effort to "press the reset button" on a relationship that had hit especially rough waters in the last months of the Bush administration.
"The new agreement will mutually enhance the security of the parties and predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces," the leaders said in a joint statement. "We are ready to move beyond Cold War mentalities and chart a fresh start in relations between our two countries."
US and Russian officials will work on a remade arms treaty by July when Mr Obama is due to visit Moscow.
"It's pretty clear that we have to hit some milestones by then," said a US official.
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