WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama urged Americans, who celebrate Independence Day Saturday, to implement broad economic and social reforms, expressing confidence the country will be able to overcome the challenges it is facing. We are facing an array of challenges on a scale unseen in our time, the president said in his weekly radio address. We are waging two wars. We are battling a deep recession. The president said that in order to lay the foundation of growth and prosperity, Americans would have to revamp their education system and build schools that would prepare every child to compete with workers around the world. He pointed out that the United States also needed to reform its health care system, bringing down medical costs for all Americans. Obama also urged Americans to make clean energy the profitable kind of energy so that we can end our dependence on foreign oil. We are not a people who fear the future, the president concluded, reminding Americans of the spirit of the countrys founding fathers. We are a people who make it. And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more. Meanwhile, the United States wants to forge new relations on an equal footing with Russia, President Barack Obama said in a television interview broadcast Saturday to the Russian-language audience. America respects Russia, we want to build relations where we deal as equals, he told the international Russian-language news channel Vesti ahead of his landmark visit on Monday to Moscow. Obama said relations had left a lot to be desired in recent years under predecessor George Bush and reminded his audience that he wanted to hit the reset button from day one in the White House. Describing Russia as a great country with extraordinary culture and traditions, he said it remains one of the most powerful countries in the world and is a major guarantor of international stability and prosperity. Obama is due to meet both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, which would allow him to better understand the concerns and politics of both men. He said he hoped both leaders would reach the conclusion that they can work with me in an effective manner. Labelling Medvedev a thoughtful, forward-looking individual who is doing a fine job of leading Russia into the 21st century, Obama added that Putin has been a very strong leader for the Russian people. Obamas remarks were translated from the dubbed Russian. There was no immediate transcript in English available from the White House. Washington has been accused by the Russian press of playing a dangerous game by seeking to drive a wedge between Medvedev and Putin in foreign relations. Meanwhile, Russia was Saturday preparing to welcome Barack Obama for the first time as US president, heartened by his description of the country as an equal but also stunned by criticism of Vladimir Putin. Russia has been eagerly awaiting the visit as proof of a change in the US attitudes towards Moscow but observers were astonished by a pre-summit interview in which Obama said Putin still had one foot in the Cold War. In an interview, Obama said he believed Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new. By contrast, Obama said he had a very good relationship with Medvedev. The mass-circulation Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper said Obama was trying to break up the hitherto tight Russian ruling tandem of the president and the prime minister by taking sides. It seems that the Americans are undertaking a head-spinningly risky game with an unpredictable outcome, it said in a front-page article. Washington has openly interfered in Russian political life and is stretching the ruling Kremlin tandem to breaking point. There has never been anything like this in all the zig-zags of relations between Washington and Moscow. Putin hit back at the remark with his trademark cutting style, quipping that he was firmly standing on both legs and always looking to the future. In another interview, this time with state-run Rossia television and the ITAR-TASS news agency, Obama lavished praise on Medvedev and said he wanted the relationship with Russia to be one of equals. He described Medvedev as a thoughtful, forward-looking individual who is doing a fine job of leading Russia into the 21st century, according to excerpts of the interview published by ITAR-TASS. The full version is due to be aired on Rossia later Saturday. Meanwhile, Putin has been a very strong leader for the Russian people, Obama added. Obama said his main aim for the visit was to communicate to the Russians that we want to deal as equals, he said, according to ITAR-TASS. The mass-circulation Komsomolskaya Pravda daily said up to 10,000 members of the security forces would line the route Obamas convoy takes when he travels from a Moscow airport to the city centre. The president, his wife Michelle and two daughters are to stay in a lavish suite at the Ritz Carlton hotel with views of Red Square, it added.