Russian president suggests Romney use reason, head

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By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday sharply suggested that Mitt Romney use his head and remember what year he's living in after the Republican presidential contender said Moscow was America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe."

Romney described Russia in those terms while criticizing President Barack Obama for his caught-on-tape remarks to Medvedev that he would have more room to negotiate on missile defense if he is re-elected in November.

During a briefing Tuesday in Seoul, where he and Obama were attending a nuclear security summit, the Russian leader said Romney's remarks "smacked of Hollywood" and sounded as if they came from the Cold War era.

Medvedev advised the White House hopefuls, including Romney, to "rely on reason, use their heads," adding, "that's not harmful for a presidential candidate." He further said, "It's 2012, not the mid-1970s, and whatever party he belongs to, he must take the existing realities into account."

NATO's U.S.-led missile defense plans have long been an irritant in relations with Moscow, which has rejected the U.S. assurances that the shield is needed to fend off an Iranian missile threat and voiced concern that it will eventually grow into a threat to Russia's nuclear deterrent.

In a Monday meeting on the sidelines of the summit, Obama's remarks to Medvedev were picked up by a microphone without either apparently knowing.

"This is my last election," Obama was heard telling the Russian president. "After my election, I have more flexibility."

Medvedev replied in English that he would convey the message to Vladimir Putin, who reclaimed the presidency in an election earlier this month and will formally take office in May.

Seeking to contain the gaffe, Obama has said he wants to spend the rest of the year working through technical issues related to the missile defense dispute with the Russians and that it was not surprising that a deal couldn't be completed quickly.

Medvedev echoed Obama on Tuesday, saying that "there are no secrets here, and it's not surprising that a number of issues are better solved in a specific political situation."

"There are good and bad periods for solving things," he said. "And it's quite obvious that the situation when all political forces are stable is the best time for that."

Medvedev, who is expected to take over as prime minister, the job Putin is leaving, added that while Obama has always stood firm for the U.S. interests, he has been a good partner who has helped establish a "friendly and trusting" dialogue.

"I consider our dialogue with President Obama over the last few years to have been exemplary," Medvedev said. "The most important thing for a dialogue is for the parties to hear one another. And he has been a very comfortable partner in that sense."

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