WASHINGTON (CNN) – The United States and Russia pledged Thursday not to let differences on issues such as Georgia prevent stronger ties and cooperation on nuclear reductions, proliferation and Iran.
"It is old thinking to say that we have a disagreement in one area and therefore we shouldn't work in something else that is overwhelmingly important," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after a meeting with
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"We want to normalize the relationship and raise it to a new level," Clinton said.
Lavrov added that reducing both countries' nuclear stockpiles was "too important both for Russia and the United States and the rest of the world to hold hostage."
The two met to further negotiations on a nuclear reduction treaty to replace the 1991 START treaty, which expires at the end of this year, and in advance of a summit between President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in July. Last month in London the two leaders agreed to cooperate on arms control, nuclear proliferation and Iran.
Lavrov's visit comes amid recent tensions over NATO exercises in Georgia, which prompted Moscow to drop out of an upcoming NATO-Russia council meeting.
And earlier this week NATO revoked the credentials of two Russian diplomats posted to its headquarters in Brussels, after which Russia expelled two Moscow-based officials in retaliation.
The U.S. and Russia also disagree on how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions. Lavrov Thursday reiterated Russia's opposition to U.S. and European Union sanctions against Iran, saying any measures should be coordinated through the U.N. Security Council.