Obama Meets Putin, Touts Democracy in Speech

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2009 5:22 AM CDT
Barack and Michelle Obama greet graduates and audience members after speaking at the National Economic School graduation in Moscow, Tuesday, July 7, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama began his second day in Russia by meeting with Vladimir Putin at the president-turned-prime minister's country home outside Moscow. The two leaders both expressed a desire for improved relations, and observers said they had a cordial discussion. The president then addressed a Moscow economics university, where he told students that the US and Russia are not "destined to be antagonists."

Obama said in his speech that "American wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia" and listed areas for cooperation, including nuclear proliferation and preventing extremism. But he expressed concern about Russia's eroding democracy and cited America's free press and competitive elections as models to follow. The president also sat down with Mikhail Gorbachev, and later today will join Dmitry Medvedev for a business summit, and meet Russian opposition leaders.