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08/07/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


Even before Air Force One had left US soil on Sunday evening, Obama's trip had built up high expectations across the globe.

The schedule roughly stands at three countries in one week and includes meetings to build on US-Russian relations, a G8 summit, an audience with the Pope, and a whistlestop visit to Ghana in West Africa.

Before the Obama family set out for Moscow, Russia agreed to allow US troops and weapons bound for Afghanistan fly over Russian territory, providing the US with an important access corridor.

President Obama gave a written interview to a leading Russian newspaper before his arrival in Moscow.

In the interview, President Obama said that strengthening democracy, human rights and law reforms in Russia could feasibly form part of the talks between the US and Russia.

The newspaper quoted the US President saying, "I also believe that Americans and Russians have a common interest in the development of rule of rule, the strengthening of democracy, and the protection of human rights."

In the interview, Obama emphasized that the missile defense system planned for eastern Europe would not be aimed at Russia.

"We are not building and will not build a system that is aimed to respond to an attack from Russia. Such thinking is simply a legacy of the Cold War," Obama was quoted in the paper as saying.

Those missile defence plans came under scrutiny when Obama met with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Monday.

The two presidents committed to a year-end deal to reduce nuclear stockpiles by around a third of their current level, but failed to reach agreement on the US's missile defense plans.

Russia's First Lady Svetlana Medvedev took Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama on a low-key tour of the Kremlin shortly after their arrival in Moscow.

The ladies lunched in the Winter Garden before visting the State Diamond Fund at the Armory museum.

On Monday evening, the Obamas left the kids at home and went out for dinner with the Medvedevs. Check out the photos and fashion here.

Obama held private talks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, July 7, whom he later described to Fox News Channel as "tough, smart, shrewd, very unsentimental, very pragmatic."

After the meeting, President Obama attended a graduating ceremony for the New Economic School in Moscow. In his speech, the President appealed to the Russian people to forge a lasting relationship with the US, saying the two countries were not "destined to be antagonists".

Obama also acknowledged that on certain issues there would not be a "meeting of the minds anytime soon" with Prime Minister Putin.

Mrs Obama also attended the grauation ceremony, wearing a black and white dress with a black flower brooch.

In a speech broadcast on Russian television, albeit not on the most popular stations, Obama said: "Let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia."

Speaking about Georgia and the Ukraine, whose NATO membership applications have irritated Russia, Obama said: "NATO seeks collaboration with Russia, not confrontation."

The US President also met with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in what the White House described as a "good meeting".

Reactions to Obama's Russian trip have varied, with a strong focus on the positive grounds made in US-Russian relations. Obama was also caught out for forgetting his daughter's age and where exactly he met Michelle.

The Obamas departed Russia on Wednesday morning for the G8 summit in Italy.

President Obama met with the other G8 leaders to begin discussions on economic issues and climate change.

g8 Summit

In Wednesday's meetings, the G8 leaders pledged to help tackle climate change by seeking dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Mrs Obama met with the wives and partners of the other G8 leaders, including the former topless model-turned government minister who is accompanying Berlusconi to the summit.

Thursday's meetings will also include the delegates from the smaller G5 summit, which is also being held in Italy, and members of the Major Economic Forum. This 17-nation group is jointly responsible for releasing 80 percent of the globe's greenhouse gases.

The HuffPost will have continuing updates throughout Obama's trip to Russia, Italy and Ghana this week.

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