More details are emerging about a letter President Obama sent to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussing plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.
Though the Kremlin disputes the account, senior U.S. administration officials say Obama suggested in his letter that those plans might be unnecessary if Moscow helped in blocking Iran’s progress toward building long-range missiles.
"President Obama sent a letter to Russian President Medvedev discussing a broad range of issues, including missile defense as it relates to Iran," a senior administration official told FOX News.
"The suggestion is that need for missile defense deployment could become unnecessary if, working together with Russia, the Iran missile threat is addressed," an official told The Associated Press.
Plans for deploying U.S. missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic, ostensibly to guard against Iranian attacks on U.S. allies in Europe, are among a host of issues that soured U.S.-Russia relations during the former Bush administration. There have been indications Obama, who has vowed to shake up American foreign policy, might be willing to set aside the missile defense system.
The senior official told FOX News that the U.S. will continue to "consult with Poles and Czechs as we move forward with decisions on missile defense."
Obama and Medvedev were expected to meet at the G-20 economic summit of advanced and developing nations in London next month, according to the officials.
The administration has previously hinted that the policy on the missile defense shield that former President George B. Bush fiercely advocated was open to reassessment.
In Moscow, a Kremlin source told FOX News there was no quid pro quo on Iran and missile defense in the letter, but said the correspondence was considered very positive and contained a number of initiatives.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged the United States to restore diplomatic relations with Iran, Russian news agencies reported. "This would be an important element in stabilizing the situation in the region," he said.
Lavrov is scheduled to hold talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Geneva on Friday in the highest-level meeting between the two nations since Obama took office.
At a February gathering of NATO defense chiefs in Krakow, Poland, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that Washington would review the missile plan "in the context of our relationship with both Poland and the Czech Republic" as well as with NATO and Russia. The language marked a departure from the tone of the Bush administration, which enthusiastically promoted the plan and signed deals last year with Warsaw and Prague.
Gates said that if Moscow really wants to stop the missile shield, it should help eliminate the threat of a missile attack from Iran.
The Obama administration has been vocal about its desire to repair rifts between the U.S. and Russia. In Munich last month, Vice President Joe Biden told a gathering of world leaders, "It’s time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia."