Visits may improve US-Russia relations

Updated: 2013-02-05 07:47

By Agencies (China Daily)

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US Secretary of State John Kerry may visit Russia soon as Washington and Moscow are trying to mend their strained ties.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also told reporters on Saturday that US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon also plans to visit Moscow, "probably this month", according to the RIA Novosti.

Analysts said the visits may give the US and Russia a chance to ease tensions that have flared up in recent months by disagreements over a series of issues including Syria.

Both countries have also taken tit-for-tat measures after the US passed a law in December that bars entry into the US for Russians who are deemed to be human rights abusers. In response, Russia passed a law that includes a ban on the adoption of Russian children by US citizens.

Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped the G8 summit hosted by the US in May, which analysts have said was largely due to their disagreement on anti-ballistic missile issues.

Kerry, sworn in on Friday, acknowledged to a Senate panel in January that US-Russia relations "slid backwards in recent years", saying the US must find a way to work with Russia, RIA Novosti reported.

He mentioned several areas where Russia has cooperated with the US including nuclear arms control, sanctions on Iran and trade, and said he would like to find a way to cooperate with Russia on ending the civil war in Syria.

On the sidelines of the 49th Munich Security Conference on Saturday in Germany, Lavrov met with US Vice-President Joseph Biden in "quite an informal and friendly atmosphere", the Voice of Russia reported.

Their meeting is the first high-level contact between the two countries since US President Barack Obama was re-elected in November.

It "appears to have revived the spirit of the 'reset'" of their relations, which Biden had proclaimed in Munich four years ago, according to India's The Hindu newspaper.

During former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's term, the relationship between the two major powers improved with high-level visits and the signing of a series of cooperation deals.

Setting out Russia's policy agenda for 2013 at an annual news conference last month, Lavrov made clear that improving relations with Washington was part of Moscow's vision for strengthening its influence on the world stage, Reuters reported.

However, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of Russian State Duma's International Affairs Committee, said he does not see a "new reset" coming anytime soon.

The agreement "is out of line with today's realities and has exhausted its potential", the Russian government said on its website.

"As long as Russia and the US cannot tolerate each other's diplomatic goals and world view, they will be unable to establish a real partnership," said Yang Lei, an expert on Russian studies at Zhou Enlai School of Government of Nankai University in Tianjin.

"The relationship between Russia and the US will drop again to a new low whenever their existing conflicts are flared up, as the two countries are fundamentally different in strategic goals and national interests," Yang wrote in a recent article.

China Daily-Reuters

(China Daily 02/05/2013 page11)