MOSCOW, March 6 (UPI) -- Russian officials expressed guarded optimism about Friday's talks between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The countries' two top diplomats were scheduled to meet for a working dinner in Geneva.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, "We are waiting with cautious optimism the outcome of these talks," RIA Novosti reported. "We expect good results."
The Clinton-Lavrov meeting is a precursor to a meeting of U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev next month in London during a summit of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing countries.
"There are issues on which the sides' positions are close or the same, including on Afghanistan," the ministry's statement said. "We need to try to bring our positions closer together on such issues as the reduction of strategic offensive arms and NATO's expansion to the east."
The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is set to expire in December. Russia has tied a new nuclear disarmament treaty to Washington's reversing its plans for a planned U.S. missile shield in Europe, the Russian news agency said.
In Brussels, Clinton said it was time for a "fresh start" with Russia, and called for ways to be found to "manage differences" with Moscow.