It was the whole Obama family that arrived in Moscow Monday morning. The president sat down with Russia’s President Medvedev with the intent of resetting relations between the United States and Russia.
“On a whole host of issues, including security issues, economic issues, energy issues, environmental issues, that the United States and Russia have more in common than they have differences,” said President Obama.
U.S. officials confirm Monday the two leaders will announce progress on arms control, specifically cutting the number of nuclear warheads.
Securing nuclear material at sites across Russian territory has been a priority for both countries.
“We know people want to get their hands on this material, we get it through our intelligence community,” said Tom D’Agostino of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
But issues remain in replacing the start, or arms control treaty that expires in December.
Russia wants the U.S. to scrap plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, something Russians see with suspicion.
“We obviously have areas of difference. I would cite missile defense as certainly a big one,” said Chairmain of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen during an interview on Fox News Sunday.
Americans too have become more wary of Russia.
Just 29 percent see Russia as an ally, compared to 52 percent seven years ago.
The shift came as former President Putin forged closer ties with Iran’s Ahmedinejad and resisted U.S. pressure on North Korea and on NATO’s expansion.
Barack Obama also meets with the former Russian president Monday for the first time.
U.S. officials see hope that Putin’s strong influence still may be waning.
Just last week Russia offered its airspace to flights of U.S. troops and weapons into Afghanistan.
The president hopes arms control helps open more agreement elsewhere.
After Moscow he goes to Italy, where he’ll have an audience with the pope, then to Ghana in Africa, touted by some as a model of democracy.