9 March 2011, 12:58

Joe Biden to augment “reset” with Russia

Joe Biden to augment “reset” with Russia
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Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and missile defense cooperation will become the two focal points on the agenda at the upcoming talks between the US Vice President and the Russian leaders in Moscow.

Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and missile defense cooperation will become the two focal points on the agenda at the upcoming talks between the US Vice President and the Russian leaders in Moscow. Joseph Biden - the one who introduced the phrase “to push the reset button” as regards America’s relations with Russia about a year ago - has arrived in Moscow to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Joseph Biden is a constant guest to the Russian capital city, with his first visit dating back to 1979 when he headed an American delegation. His negotiations with Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Alexei Kosygin focused on a treaty to curtail the manufacture of strategic nuclear weapons, known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II). As you know, the document was successfully agreed and signed.

It should be noted that the incumbent US vice president is a rather coherent politician in his views. In 2001, arms control expert Joseph Biden came out flat against George Bush’s decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. At the Munich Conference of 2008, he urged to ease strained relations with Moscow and “reset” them. It is therefore quite logical that it was Joseph Biden - and not someone else from the US administration, - who arrived in Moscow to continue the reset this year. At least, this is how the White House explained the central objective of his visit.

Indeed, it is not easy to obtain any results if constantly turning back and trying to wipe the slate clean in relations. Having once “reset” their ties, Moscow and Washington now seek to expand cooperation in the areas where it is already in the offing, deputy director of the Russian Institute for the US and Canada Studies Pavel Zolotarev believes.

"Joseph Biden’s visit to Moscow should be above all treated as a preparation for the meeting between the two presidents - Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama. Of course, we all prefer any presidential meeting to end up with some specific decisions. This year will most probably witness an attempt to develop a document specifying the outlined missile defense cooperation track. It cannot be ruled out that this document will shed light on a number of intentions such as the cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which was among other things promised by President Obama," Pavel Zolotarev says.

Passed as a provision to the American Trade Act in 1974, the notorious amendment linked the two countries’ normal trade relations with the freedom of Jewish immigration from the USSR. US business circles have repeatedly called on the White House to abolish the anachronistic document, thus recognizing Russia’s achievements over the last decade or so.

In the course of his visit to Moscow, the US vice president is going to give special priority to some economic aspects of the “reset”. Accompanied by American entrepreneurs working in Russia, he will visit the Skolkovo innovation hub to attend a round table discussion with Moscow businessmen. Furthermore, Mr. Biden and First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov will participate in a signing ceremony for a major Boeing-Aeroflot agreement.

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