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End-of-year high note for Obama on foreign policy, too

Russia's Medvedev lauds Obama for pushing New START through the Senate. North Korea is more subdued, ahead of US visit from China's Hu. Obama and Britain's Cameron, well, they still talk.

By Staff writer / December 24, 2010

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev praised President Obama for pushing the New START treaty through the Senate in a television interview today.

Mikhail Klimentyev/Reuters

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Washington

President Obama can play golf and splash in the waves with his family in Hawaii knowing he’s ending the year on a high note in the eyes of some top world leaders.

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On Friday Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had nothing but praise for Mr. Obama’s ability to push the New START treaty through to ratification in the Senate this week, saying the US-Russia pact on nuclear arms reduction will be the “cornerstone” of a decade of enhanced security in Europe and beyond.

Then there's the state visit by China’s President Hu Jintao slated for mid-January, which may help Washington-Beijing relations – at least in the short term. China’s apparent desire to avoid any hiccups before Mr. Hu’s arrival, some US-China experts suggest, may be a factor in North Korea’s uncharacteristically mild response to South Korea’s recent military exercises.

START TREATY: 3 things it will do, 3 things it won't

Obama even ended the year on a cheery note with British Prime Minister David Cameron, when the two leaders – who haven’t always seen eye to eye –wished each other “happy holidays” and all the best for the new year in a telephone conversation Dec. 21. The two have differed this year over economic policy for addressing the global downturn – more stimulus (Obama) versus deficit reduction (Mr. Cameron). And the Briton’s determination to pull all British combat troops from Afghanistan next year was not music to Washington’s ears.

But Tuesday’s phone call highlighted the fact that the two leaders are “on the same page” on Afghanistan, according to No. 10 Downing Street, with both men emphasizing that 2011 will mark the beginning of a transition to greater responsibility of Afghan security forces, as agreed by NATO at its summit in November.

The White House read-out of the phone call noted that Obama and Cameron discussed counterterrorism cooperation and Middle East peace efforts – but if the world economy was part of the conversation, it failed to make it into the official synopsis.

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