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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
March 15, 2011


Look Ahead

Late February – April: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group:

Grammy-nominated American R&B musician and producer John Forté continues his “From Brooklyn to Russia with Love!” tour of Russia. On March 2, Forté kicked off his nine-week journey through Russia with a performance at Spaso House, where his band entertained and energized a crowd of over 300 people. Forté and his band are now taking their act to other locations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Yekaterinburg, as well as smaller locales along the Trans-Siberia Railway and beyond.

Watch a video of his performance at Spaso House

Date: 03/02/2011 Description: John Forté and his band perform commencing their Russia tour at Spaso House.  © U.S. Embassy Moscow photo
John Forté and his band perform commencing their Russia tour at Spaso House.

March 21 – 23: Defense Relations Working Group: U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and Russia’s Minister of Defense, Anatoliy Serdyukov, will meet in Moscow to discuss defense reforms under way in both nations, as well as missile defense cooperation, relations with NATO, and new START treaty follow-up issues. They will also discuss other topics of mutual interest including, Libya and the Middle East, the Korean peninsula, Afghanistan, and Georgia.

March 23-24: Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group: ROSATOM General Director Sergei Kiriyenko will travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with Deputy Secretary of Energy, Daniel Poneman.

March 23 – 24: The Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats will meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Andrei Denisov, in Moscow in continuation of their strategic economic dialogue.

March 24: Counternarcotics Working Group: Working Group Co-Chairs, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Gil Kerlikowske and Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) Director Viktor Ivanov will convene a working group meeting in Moscow. Participants will include representatives from respective health, foreign affairs, education, law enforcement, and treasury agencies. Both sides are expected to review progress and exchange views on strengthening law enforcement cooperation, countering illicit finance proceeds from narco-trafficking, and collaborating on drug prevention and treatment programs. Following a discussion of school drug prevention programs, the working group co-chairs will host a roundtable discussion with Russian youth at Moscow State University.

March 26 – April 8: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: Following successful exchanges in basketball, swimming, and beach volleyball, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office will partner with the National Hockey League (NHL) to bring over 20 Russian youth (boys and girls ages 14-17, plus four coaches) to Washington, DC and New York City for a two week youth hockey program. Activities will include attendance at NHL games; ice hockey clinics; sessions on team building, sports, and disability; and other chances to interact with young Americans.

Previous Events Wrap-Up

Arms Control and International Security Working Group: On March 10, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov met in Moscow to discuss defense and arms control issues, including establishing cooperative missile defense and nonproliferation.

Environmental Working Group: A delegation of twenty Russian national park and nature reserve managers and non-governmental representatives concluded their two-week visit to the United States on March 4. During the delegation’s meetings in Washington D.C. and Florida, Russian representatives shared expertise and exchanged views on protected area management and habitat conservation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. In reviewing the responsibilities and operations of American and Russian agencies, particular emphasis was placed on how these agencies are working to balance public usage with efforts to maintain protected areas. In this context, Russian representatives discussed current draft legislation being considered by the Russian Duma, which would allow for increased public access to Russia’s 42 national parks and 102 federal nature reserves. The Russian delegation then travelled to Florida where they toured Apalachicola National Forest, St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla Springs State Park, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Biscayne National Park. During these park visits, ranger education and training, fire management, tourist management, and ongoing ecosystem restoration efforts were discussed. At the trip’s conclusion, U.S. and Russian officials agreed to continue such park management exchanges with a visit of U.S. park officials to Russia later this year. Given the longstanding and successful partnership between Fossil Butte National Monument and Russia’s Khvalynsky National Park, officials also agreed to explore establishing new “sister park” relationships between U.S. and Russian national parks. 

Date: 03/04/2011 Description: The Russian delegation on their visit to the Everglades to exchange expertise on park management. © National Park Sevices photo
The Russian delegation on their visit to the Everglades to exchange expertise on park management.

Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group:

  • On March 3-4, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale and Ambassador Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of the Russian President for International Cultural Cooperation, presided over the inaugural meeting of the Mass Media Sub-Working Group held in Boston. Participants included media professionals, journalists, and journalism students from the People’s Friendship University in Moscow, St. Petersburg State University, and the University of Kansas and Columbia University. The event produced recommendations in the following three areas: identifying new business models for the integration of social media and citizen journalism into traditional media; developing professional journalist exchange programs between the U.S. and Russia; and identifying areas of common interest in using new technologies to promote dialogue. At the meeting’s conclusion, Under Secretary McHale and Ambassador Shvydkoy signed a Joint Work Plan detailing areas for future discussion. The two co-chairs also agreed to host a follow-on Sub-Group meeting later this year.

    Read the State Department’s Media Note
    Read Judith McHale’s Remarks
Date: 03/03/2011 Description: Students from the People's Friendship University participate in a webcast at Embassy Moscow. © U.S. Embassy Moscow
Students from the People’s Friendship University participate in a webcast at Embassy Moscow.

  • The Russian Youth Agency, working in conjunction with the Open World Leadership Center, hosted a delegation of 15 American university student body presidents in Moscow and Yaroslavl. (Note: Participating universities included the University of Maine, Duke, CalTech, University of Nevada-Reno, Princeton University, University of Indiana, University of Southern Mississippi, Emory, University of Kentucky, University of Florida, Murray State, Castleton State College, Florida Agricultural University, Chapman University, and North Carolina State.) Students visited cultural landmarks and met with student counterparts and local leaders. The students also attended Vice President Biden’s address at the Bauman University in Moscow (see below). Finally, students discussed opportunities to further interaction between American and Russian youth with First Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration, Vladislav Surkov. The visit follows a similar exchange in November 2010; two additional exchanges of 15 U.S. university student leaders are scheduled to take place in 2011. 

Date: 2011 Description: The student body president delegation meeting with Vladislav Surkov of the Presidential Administration. © Open World photo
The student body president delegation meeting with Vladislav Surkov of the Presidential Administration.

  • At the International House of Music in downtown Moscow on March 2, conductor David Handel and violinist Rachel Barton Pine performed in front of a sold out audience with a medley of musical pieces by Bernstein and Gershwin. 
Date: 03/02/2011 Description: Musicians Handel and Barton Pine perform against the backdrop of the International House of Music. © U.S. Embassy Moscow photo
Musicians Handel and Barton Pine perform against the backdrop of the International House of Music.

  • From March 11-15, American Jazz star Ty Stephens and the SoulJaazz Group concluded a five day tour in the Russian Far East performing Broadway hits from productions including Porgy & Bess, The Wiz, Sophisticated Ladies, West Side Story, South Pacific, Miss Saigon, and more.

Science and Technology/Education Working Groups: The Science and Technology Working Group, the Education Sub-Working Group, and the U.S-Russia Innovation Council on High Technology (ICHT), a public-private sector initiative promoting technology innovation, participated in the first ever “Science and Innovation Week” in Moscow. 

Read the State Department Press Release

  • Science and Technology Working Group: Dr. John Holdren, U.S. Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Dr. Andrey Fursenko, the Russian Minister of Education and Science led discussions on increasing scientific collaboration on nanotechnology, information technology/e-government, and climate science and technology. Joint projects and initiatives were identified in the following areas:

  • Information Technology/e-government: An exchange of expertise on the use of IT in government to promote efficiency, transparency, and increased public engagement; developing innovation challenges and a joint U.S.-Russia code-a-thon; and launching an e-government pilot project in Russia’s Far East.
  • Climate Science and Technology: Areas of extreme precipitation over the U.S. and Russia under climate change; the fluctuations of CO2, methane, and water vapor in the Arctic region; the degradation of subsea permafrost in the Arctic and the consequences for emissions; the joint long-term census of changing climatic conditions in the Arctic; and the carbon budgets of Russian and North American forests under climate change and changing forestry practices.
  • Nanotechnology: Small research grants to the establishment of a joint nano-bioscience center; cooperation between the U.S.-based Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Russian Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials (TISNCM) on advanced X-ray optics; and collaboration between TISNCM and the NanoTech Institute at the University of Dallas on Carbon Nanotubes.

View Photos of the Event
Watch U.S. Presidential Advisor for Science and Technology J. Holdren at Bauman University in Moscow
Read USAID’s Putting Science in the Spotlight

  • Education Working Group: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs, Alina Romanowski, and Director of International Integration in the Russian Ministry of Education and Science Igor Protsenko led a number of discussions with American and Russian governmental and non-governmental representatives to explore new areas of cooperation in higher and secondary education, including in math, science, and technology. In support of the Education Sub-Working Group, the Institute of International Education (IIE) led a delegation of university presidents from Lehigh University, Montclair State University, North Carolina State University, University of Arizona, University of California, Los Angeles, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and University of South Carolina Upstate to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kazan to develop strengthen existing and develop new ties in student and faculty exchanges and collaborative research. Representatives of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Leading Russian Universities (ARU) also met to plan for an inaugural U.S.-Russia University Presidents Roundtable scheduled to convene in Washington, D.C. in early April. As a result of the week’s discussions, working group participants identified new priority projects, including the Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity (EURECA) Program, and signed new joint university initiatives, including a Memorandum of Understanding signed between University of North Carolina Greensboro and Kazan Federal University. The working group also committed to expanding education opportunities for American and Russian students and faculty under the Fulbright Program and U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).

    See the IIE Press Release

Civil Society Working Group:

  • Anti-Corruption Sub-Working Group: During a visit to Moscow to participate in the 3rd Russia CIS Summit on Anti-Corruption, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer addressed a meeting of the Russian Energy Compliance Alliance, organized by the Center for Business Ethnics and Corporate Governance. Mr. Breuer commended the work of the organization, which he called an “innovative effort to promote voluntary compliance in a difficult environment.” He highlighted the readiness of the United States to work with Russia on combating corruption, noting the trend of developed economies to be increasingly interested in, and equipped to, prosecute foreign corruption cases.
  • Migration Sub-Working Group: On March 23, Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large for the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and Steve Bucher, Deputy Associate Director of the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, held a digital video conference with Yekaterina Yegorova, Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Migration Service. American NGO representatives from Human Rights First, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and the Migration Policy Institute also participated. The discussion covered issues related to migrant reception and integration, the reduction of labor trafficking, and methods of assessing migrant flows. The two sides also agreed to begin planning for a potential study tour to Florida for an exchange of expertise on migration issues.

Health Working Group:

  • On March 10, the Health and Development Foundation, one of Russia’s leading health sector civil society organizations, announced the creation of a new partnership to establish Text4baby Russia. Text4baby Russia will establish a free mobile information service promoting maternal and child health, including information relevant to the stage of pregnancy and the child’s development, directly to mobile phones via text messages. This partnership announcement was made on the occasion of a visit by Dr. Jill Biden, to the Kulakov Federal Institute on Obstetrics and Gynecology to celebrate a long history of partnership between the U.S. and Russia in the health field, and to congratulate the Center on its role in improving maternal and infant health in Russia. The Russia Text4baby partnership is supported by a commitment from American companies Voxiva and Johnson & Johnson, as well as from the U.S.-based Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition. The Health and Development Foundation expects to launch the new service later this year.

    Read Dr. Biden’s Blog
Date: 03/10/2011 Description: Dr. Jill Biden and Dr. Gennadii Sukhikh, Director of the Kulakov Center, shake hands at the announcement ceremony of Text4baby Russia. © U.S. Embassy Moscow photo
Dr. Jill Biden and Dr. Gennadii Sukhikh, Director of the Kulakov Center, shake hands at the announcement ceremony of Text4baby Russia. 

  • On March 10, the Russian Foundation of Basic Research (RFBR) Chairman Vladislav Panchenko signed a first of its kind Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Valid for five years with the possibility for extension, the MOU focuses on joint HIV prevention studies between Russian and American scientists engaged in fundamental biomedical and behavioral research. The MOU also establishes the basis for collaborative biomedical research projects, the joint publication of research, and the organization of scientific meetings and events. Both the RFBR and NIH have expressed their hope that the MOU can be expanded in the future to include other areas of cooperation.

Vice President Biden’s Visit to Moscow: Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden paid an official visit to Russia March 8-11. View press releases and transcripts of his meetings below:

Remarks by VP Biden at Moscow State University
Remarks by VP Biden at Roundtable with Russian and American Business Leaders
Remarks by VP Biden and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
View the White House’s Blog on VP Biden’s Trip

  Date: 03/08/2011 Description: Vice President Joseph Biden meeting with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev. © AP Image
Vice President Joseph Biden meeting with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev.

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