President Obama on Friday suggested that his country “pause” to examine factors behind its deteriorating ties with Russia, but high-level leaders from each side vowed to press ahead in countering the spread of nuclear arms and stopping bloodshed in Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In talks the same day with their Russian counterparts, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed plans to convene a Syria peace meeting, as well as to take additional steps against controversial atomic efforts in North Korea and Iran.
The officials “agreed to look for ways to work together” on missile defense, a high-level State Department official said on Friday. They also resolved “to explore the possibilities of further nuclear reductions,” the insider said in a telephone background briefing with reporters.
Moscow and Washington are likely to move forward with a plan to share more data pertaining to the spread of nuclear arms, according to the Kommersant newspaper. The Russian National Nuclear Threat Reduction Center would facilitate the exchange, according to the article quoted by RIA Novosti.
Another deal would permit cooperation between U.S. scientific facilities and Rosatom, an atomic firm operated by the Russian government, Kommersant reported.
Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin were slated to ink the deals in a bilateral meeting called off by Washington last week. The White House cited lingering missile defense and arms control disputes in explaining the cancelation.
Speaking to journalists on Friday, Obama said Moscow’s granting of temporary asylum to former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden is “just one more in a number of emerging differences that we’ve seen over the last several months … where, you know, it is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia’s going, what our core interests are.”
Putin sometimes resembles a “bored kid in the back of the classroom,” the Journal quoted Obama as saying.
Also during Friday’s talks, Hagel accepted a Russian invitation for his country’s best tank operators to compete in an international target-shooting match in 2014, RIA Novosti reported.
The news service billed the planned “biathlon” as a first-of-its-kind match involving a fuzzy line between sports and military prowess. In a preliminary event held outside Moscow last week, four tanks painted in sunny colors did timed laps over harsh terrain and shot at notional targets.
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