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President Barack Obama has called on the the citizens of Russia and the United States to take part in forging new relationships between the two countries.
"You are the last generation born when the world was divided," he told students at Moscow's New Economic School during a recent trip to the region. He stressed that rivalry between the U.S. and Russia should remain in the past.
"America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia," he said. He expressed hope that the post-Cold War world would focus on collaboration rather than competition:
"The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game – progress must be shared. That is why I have called for a "reset" in relations between the United States and Russia. This must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the White House – though that is important. It must be a sustained effort among the American and Russian people to identify mutual interests, and to expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress."
As part of that effort, President Obama said, U.S. and Russian leaders have made steps toward working together to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons and make vulnerable nuclear materials secure. They agreed to collaborate in the fight against extremists, and Russia agreed to allow
the United States to transport its military personnel and equipment across Russia to support American and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.
President Obama noted an "extraordinary potential" for increased cooperation and trade between Americans and Russians and called on individuals to use their ingenuity to help.
Presidents Obama and Dmitri Medvedev discussed the desire for greater cooperation not only between our governments, but also between our societies. In our relations with each other, we also seek to be guided by the rule of law, respect for human rights, and tolerance for different views.
President Obama recognizes that even in collaborative relationships, there will be differences in opinion on critically important issues. For example, we can disagree on matters such as Georgia’s territorial integrity and Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO.
Nevertheless, we can engage in candid yet respectful discussions on these topics, and still work to resolve these differences peacefully and constructively.
"We must see that the period of transition which you have lived through ushers in a new era in which nations live in peace," President Obama told the students. "That is America's interest and I believe it is Russia's interest as well."