U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in a rainswept Moscow on Monday for talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev as the U.S. and Russia look to improve relations.

As well as Monday''s talks with Medvedev, Obama will also meet with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. He is also due to meet with representatives of a number of civil and political organizations, as well as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Obama, on his first visit to Russia since becoming president, is accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha. The U.S. leader is due to begin his three-day visit to Russia by laying a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall.

Talks are set to focus on strategic arms reduction, as well as a range of bilateral and international issues including the U.S. missile shield planned for Central Europe, the global economic crisis, and the upcoming G8 summit.

"At the moment, I think that we are all feeling cautiously optimistic - both the Russian side and the American side. I hear what my colleague, President Obama, says. So we are eagerly awaiting the U.S. president''s visit to our country," Medvedev said in an interview with the Raitalia TV channel and the Corriere della Sera newspaper, published on the Kremlin website.

"I spoke to him a few days ago on the phone, and we discussed the agenda, and the process of drawing up a new treaty on strategic arms issues. This is the most important item on the agenda."

On one of the main disputes between Russia and the United States in recent years - Washington''s plans for an interceptor missile base in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic - Medvedev said Moscow''s opposition remains unchanged. The U.S. says the missile shield is needed to defend against a potential Iranian strike, while Russia says the plans would harm its national security.