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Obama Jokes: Twitter Could Replace "Red Phone" Calls to Russia

Obama Medvedev

At a joint press conference today with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Obama joked about how one popular technology might help the two countries move past traditional Cold War-style diplomacy.

The technology in question was Twitter - or as Mr. Obama put it, signaling he might be less familiar with the technology than he let on, "Twitters." During his speech, Mr. Obama made reference to the fact that Medvedev "visited the headquarters of Twitters where he opened his own account."

Speaking of Medvedev starting a Twitter account, Mr. Obama said, "I have one, as well, so we may be able to finally throw away those red phones that have been sitting around for so long." The comment garnered titters from the assembled guests and press corps at the White House.

Columbia Pictures

The "red phone" Mr. Obama was referring to was the direct line that ostensibly connected the White House to the Kremlin during the Cold War, made famous in movies like 1964's "Fail Safe," starring Henry Fonda as the president (see left). In popular culture, the image of the red phone has become synonymous with U.S.-Russia relations during the era. But the reality today is a bit more complicated.

Former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, who served under President George W. Bush, told CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller that in his time there was a direct connection phone between the White House Situation Room and the Kremlin, but that it wasn't red.

As for today?

"Nowadays, they just pick up a phone and call the Kremlin," a White House spokesman told Knoller.

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