In a conversation that was picked up Monday by live microphones, President Obama privately told Russia he will have “more flexibility” to deal with missile defense after the election.

Speaking to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ahead of a global nuclear security summit in South Korea, Obama asked for “space” and “time” to deal with the missile defense issue.

“Yeah. I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you,” Medvedev said.

“This is my last election,” Obama said. “After my election, I have more flexibility.”

“I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” said Medvedev, who will hand the Russian presidency over to Vladimir Putin in May.

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