ABC News’ Ann Compton and Karen Travers report:
In a polite atmosphere where both men seemed reserved, President Obama met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this morning at his dacha in Moscow, Novo Ogaryovo, for a working breakfast that marked the first meeting of the two leaders..
Obama described the session as an “excellent opportunity to put US-Russian relations on a much stronger footing.”
“We may not end up agreeing on everything, but I think that we can have a tone of mutual respect and consultation that will serve both the American people and the Russian people well,” Obama said.
Noting that the history of US-Russian relations has “periods when our relations flourished quite a bit” but also periods of “grayish moods,” Putin said that with Obama, Russia will “link all our hopes for the furtherance of relations between our two countries.”
Obama paid compliments to the former president for his work in that position and his work as prime minister.
Putin took Obama over to the windows and pulled back curtains to show the sunny terrace where the two would have breakfast, prompting Obama to say “I also want to thank the Prime Minister for arranging very nice weather in Moscow.” Obama arrived yesterday in Moscow to gray skies but it later cleared up and the sun even came out.
The Putin/Obama meeting comes at a time when Russia analysts say that in fact it is Prime Minister Putin, and not President Medvedev, who holds the most power in Russia.
Yesterday, Obama was asked a direct question about whether he has settled in his mind “who is really in charge here in Russia, the president or Prime Minister Putin?”
Obama avoided the pointed question, while standing next to Medvedev, instead saying noting Medvedev’s and Putin’s titles and that Russia allocates power in their own way.
“[M]y interest is in dealing directly with my counterpart, the president, but also to reach out to Prime Minister Putin and all other influential sectors, in Russian Society, so that I can get a full picture of the needs of the Russian people and the concerns of the Russian people,” he said.