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Russia's Dmitry Medvedev hailed Barack Obama as "my new comrade" Thursday after their first face-to-face talks, saying the US president "can listen" -- even if little progress was made on substance.

The Russian president contrasted Obama as "totally different" to his predecessor George W. Bush, whom he blamed for the "mistake" of US missile shield plans fiercely opposed by Moscow. Obama agreed to visit Moscow in July after his talks with Medvedev on Wednesday on the sidelines of a G20 summit in London aimed at fixing the battered world economy.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow was a master class par excellence in presidential leadership. He knew exactly why he was coming to Russia and took away with him everything he had wanted. Even while lavishing praise on the Russian leaders, Obama did not give ground on a single position. He achieved what was on his agenda in his negotiations with President Dmitry Medvedev while at the same time giving tremendous support to Russia’s civil society. This is not just a new president. This is a completely new type of global leadership. If Obama is able to manage the unprecedented challenges facing him, and if luck goes his way, he has a chance of becoming one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.

The top foreign policy priorities for the Obama administration include the dangerous region spanning Afghanistan and Pakistan, strengthening the Iraqi state while gradually withdrawing U.S. troops from that country, Iran’s nuclear program, and the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Coalition forces are currently waging a major offensive in southern Afghanistan. Given that situation, Moscow’s decision to allow U.S. aircraft to pass through Russian airspace is extremely valuable and marks an important victory for Obama. Russia gains from the arrangement as well because it is no less interested in stabilizing the huge powder keg on its southern flank.

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