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Diplomacy in Action

U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission: Bi-Weekly Look-Ahead and Wrap-Up

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
January 17, 2011



January 17 - 21 – Health Working Group: A group from the Russian small business association OPORA will visit the United States for meetings with the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Medical Association, and others. They will discuss health insurance, health information technology, telemedicine, and continuing education for medical professionals.

Week of January 17* - Energy Working Group: A Digital Video Conference (DVC) will be held between the Clean Energy Technology Subgroup co-chairs Dr. William Brinkman and Russian Academician Vladimir Fortov.

January 19 - 21 – Defense Relations Working Group: Alexander Vershbow, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, will co-chair meetings of the Defense Technology Cooperation and Enhanced Missile Defense Cooperation Sub-Groups in Moscow.

January 25 - February 2 - Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: Mary Wilson, one of the founding members of Motown’s legendary musical group “The Supremes,” will perform a solo retrospective of songs, which influenced the development of contemporary popular music. Performances will be held in Nizhniy Novgorod, Volgograd, Krasnodar, Sochi, and Moscow.

January 26* - Health Working Group: High-level representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Ministry of Health and Social Development for the Russian Federation will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on the margins of the Maternal and Child Health Commission Meeting and the 128th WHO Executive Board Meeting. Among other issues, they will discuss strengthening U.S.-Russia collaboration on global polio eradication.

January 26 – Military Cooperation Working Group: Working Group co-chairs Admiral Michael Mullen and Russian Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov will meet in Brussels to discuss cooperation in combating terrorism and approve working group planning for joint exercises and activities.

January 28 – Arms Control and International Security Working Group: Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov will meet in Washington, D.C. to discuss next steps for the working group, focusing on how best to achieve the arms control and nonproliferation goals of our presidents.

January 31 - Health Working Group: Health and Human Services Director for Global Affairs Nils Daulaire will participate in a CSIS-sponsored conference on U.S.-Russia health cooperation in Washington, D.C. Former U.S. Senator Bill Frist and the Vice Chairman of the Duma Committee on Health Affairs, Nikolay Gerasimenko, are also expected to attend. Conference agenda will cover promoting healthy lifestyles and health sector reform, among other issues.

Previous Events Wrap-Up

Nuclear Energy/Nuclear Security Working Group: On January 11, Ambassador John Beyrle and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov exchanged diplomatic notes to bring into force the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (the 123 Agreement). This agreement provides the legal foundation for long-term U.S.-Russia civil nuclear cooperation, expanded commercial opportunities for both Russian and U.S. industry, and enhanced cooperation on important global nonproliferation goals.

Date: 01/11/2011 Description: Ambassador John Beyrle and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov exchanged diplomatic notes to bring into force the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (the 123 Agreement).  © U.S. Department of Energy photo

Agriculture Working Group: The Deputy Chief of the U.S. Forest Service visited Moscow on December 13 to discuss forestry management issues with the Russian Federal Forestry Agency (RFFA). In light of the August 2010 forest fires in Russia and the subsequent reorganization of the RFFA, the two Forestry Agencies shared information on wildfire management and response efforts and agreed to reciprocal seminars and exchanges on forest monitoring and inventory, forest regeneration, reduction of illegal logging, and fire management. The delegation, together with representatives from RFFA, also visited the Republic of Tatarstan to see first-hand a network of new seed production and nursery facilities created in response to the fires and to explore other possibilities for future cooperation.

Civil Society Working Group: December 13-15, Steve Bucher, Deputy Associate Director of the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, held meetings in Moscow with officials from the Russian Federal Migration Agency and with Russian NGOs to explore potential collaboration on migration and labor trafficking issues.

Defense Relations Working Group: The Training, Education, and Human Resources Sub-group met December 14-16 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. delegation consisted of senior Department of Defense subject matter experts in the field of personnel and readiness, while the Russian delegation consisted of military and civilian experts from the Ministry of Defense's (MoD) Education and Personnel Directorates. In addition to briefings on U.S. armed forces training and officer accession, the Sub-group discussed Russia’s ongoing efforts to reform its officer education system, professionalize its NCO corps, and improve MoD recruiting and retention efforts. The Russian delegation also visited the National Defense University. Both sides agreed that future discussions should also explore training issues for enlisted service members in greater depth.

Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: 

  • On December 13, U.S. Consul General Sheila Gwaltney opened a new exhibit at the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg dedicated to the drawings of Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky. Thanks to the financial support of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission as well as to Yale University, which provided additional items for the exhibit, residents of Russia’s “cultural capital” now have a chance to discover a new facet of Brodsky’s talent. In their remarks and interviews, the Consul General, Russian National Library staff, and Brodsky’s literary friends, described the famous poet– a local son of St. Petersburg who went on to become both a U.S. Poet Laureate as well as a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature—as one of the many points connecting U.S. and Russian cultures.

  • On December 18, St. Petersburg’s year-long Silent Film + Live Music festival came to a successful conclusion with the final showing featuring Harold Lloyd’s first full-length film, Dr. Jack (1922). Our Russian partner, NGO Tour de Film, was forced to turn people away as the over-capacity crowd was practically hanging from the balcony at the city’s historic Rodina Movie Center. Providing the perfect period sound, St. Petersburg’s own Easy Winners Ragtime Band (complete with homemade instruments) impressed everyone with their Russian take on the American musical genre.

  • On December 26, Russia’s Radio Orpheus, the Russian national classical music station, broadcast Ambassador Beyrle’s annual holiday concert at Spaso House. The concert featured the Masters of Choral Singing, a Russian choir of 46 members which regularly performs at the Moscow Conservatory, performing a selection of American and Russian music, including pieces by Samuel Barber and Sergey Rachmaninov, as well as traditional American carols and holiday songs such as ‘White Christmas.’ Video footage and photos of the concert can be seen here.

Date: 12/26/2010 Description: Russia's Radio Orpheus, the Russian national classical music station, broadcast Ambassador Beyrle's annual holiday concert at Spaso House.   © U.S. Embassy Moscow photo

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