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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
April 29, 2011


Look Ahead

April 20 – May 14: Environment Working Group: In support of Russian and American shared heritage in the Bering Strait region, a delegation of Russian local government officials and representatives of indigenous and non-governmental groups are traveling to Washington, DC, Washington state, and Alaska to increase connections between the native peoples of the Bering Strait and promote the preservation of the shared environment of the region. The delegation will also examine the operations of the National Park Service (NPS), including ways in which NPS park managers balance habitat conservation with economic development and public access, law enforcement issues, public outreach techniques, and ensuring visitor safety. View the NPS website to learn more about the Beringia Shared Heritage Program

May 2 – May 6: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: The Annandale Jazz Ambassadors, fresh off a tour of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Krasnodar will host concerts in the Washington, DC area and perform alongside the Krasnodar Big Band, an award-winning Russian jazz orchestra.

May 2 – May 6: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: Amy Eisman, one of the founding editors of USA Today and professor at American University in Washington D.C., will participate in World Press Freedom Day and the 50th anniversary of journalism education in the Russian Far East. In addition to delivering the key note speech at a “Freedom of Speech and Regional Mass Media” forum, Eisman will also talk with students, professors, and media organizations in local regions and universities. During these events, her focus will be on discussing major problems facing regional media, including the challenges and opportunities digital technologies present to media freedom and civil society.

May 5 – May 7: Military Cooperation Working Group: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, will travel to St. Petersburg to conduct the third meeting of the Military Cooperation Working Group with the Russian Federation Chief of Defense, General of the Army Andrey Makarov. The Working Group will discuss global security, missile defense cooperation, transparency and confidence building, and combating terrorism cooperation.

Previous Events Wrap-Up

Defense Relations Working Group: On April 27, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Forces Dr. Kathleen Hicks presided over a Defense Policy Sub-Working Group meeting with her Russian counterpart General Lieutenant Andrei Tretyak, Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff. Discussion focused on the military strategy development process, perspectives on the strategic environment facing each country and the resulting policy implications, and force development. The Co-chairs agreed to hold a follow-on meeting in Moscow, later this summer, where they will exchange ideas about military social welfare systems, efficient Military Police operations, and force planning.

Energy Working Group:

  • April 6-11, representatives from the Russian Interregional Grid Distribution Company (MRSK) and from the Belgorod Regional Administration met with San Diego City Authorities, the San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and several high tech companies, including CISCO, Intel, OSI Soft, People Power, and Silver Springs, to discuss development of a sister-city partnership on implementation of smart-grid technology. Representatives from San Diego will travel to Belgorod in June for follow-on discussions.
  • Jonathan Elkind, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Energy, visited Russia from April 18-21. Elkind focused on furthering cooperation in such fields as energy efficiency and clean energy technology in meetings with representatives from city and federal energy agencies, as well as companies in the nanotechnology and research sectors. Elkind also delivered a key note speech at an International Energy Agency forum on Russia’s Energy Outlook and worked with his Russian counterparts to prepare for Energy Secretary Chu’s upcoming trip to Russia.

Environment Working Group: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Dan Reifsnyder, accompanied by representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. National Park Service, travelled to Moscow on April 18-21 to meet with officials from the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Federal Forestry Agency, as well as with representatives from environmental NGOs. During his visit, Reifsnyder and his counterparts addressed a wide range of topics including: the establishment of closer relations between parks in the Bering Strait region, protected areas management, forest preservation, endangered species and habitat protection, black carbon, and other issues related to global climate change. It was agreed that working group coordinators will travel to the Russian Far East, later this summer, to promote environmental cooperation and projects in the region. In addition to his official schedule, Reifsnyder and the U.S. delegation also participated in local Earth Day events, including planting a tree at an eco-friendly pre-school and talking about U.S.-Russia bilateral environmental cooperation with university and high schools students at the Moscow State University Department of Environmental Engineering.

Watch Dan Reifsnyder’s video blog on 2011 as the International Year of Forests

Date: 04/18/2011 Description: Deputy Assistant Secretary Reifsnyder participates in a tree planting ceremony at a local Russian kindergarten. © U.S. Embassy Moscow Image
DAS Reifsnyder at a tree planting ceremony at a local Russian kindergarten. (Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Moscow)

Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: Thanks to a successful public-private partnership between the U.S.-Russia Foundation, Caterpillar, and the U.S. Mission to Russia, the BPC-sponsored exhibit “The Tsar & the President: Alexander II & Abraham Lincoln: The Great Liberator & the Great Emancipator” made a successful move from Moscow to St. Petersburg where it opened at Catherine’s Palace. The exhibit illustrated the similarities in the two historical figures’ efforts to end slavery and improve the wellbeing of their citizens.

Counternarcotics Working Group: The Drug Enforcement Agency conducted a four-day seminar April 18-22 on illicit narcotics financing for representatives from the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Security Service, and Rosfinmonitoring. The dialogue centered on investigative techniques used by DEA to conduct successful financial investigations of drug trafficking organizations using sophisticated money laundering techniques. Additionally, DEA representatives discussed U.S. laws and statutes that allow for successful seizure of monies and hard assets obtained from the proceeds of drug trafficking. 

Date: 04/18/2011 Description: Russian and American law enforcement agencies gathered to share expertise on illicit narcotics financing. © U.S. Embassy Moscow Image
Russian and American law enforcement agencies gathered to share expertise on illicit narcotics financing. (Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Moscow)

Health Working Group:

  • On April 27, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius and Deputy Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova chaired a meeting of the Health Working Group. Discussions focused on biomedical research cooperation, health care reform, and the challenges and successes in fighting non-communicable diseases. They also highlighted recent success stories, including Text4Baby Russia, agreements furthering cooperation in combating HIV/AIDS and enhancing biomedical research cooperation, and joint efforts on the global eradication of polio. New initiatives were also planned in maternal and child health, healthy lifestyles, global health, and science.-related areas. In addition to the working group meeting, Secretary Sebelius also participated in the Global Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the NCDs Ministerial Conference organized jointly by the World Health Organization and the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development. 
Date: 04/27/2011 Description: Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius and Deputy Minister of Health Skvortsova head their respective delegations at the Health Working Group meeting. © U.S. Embassy Moscow Image
Secretary Sebelius and Deputy Minister Skvortsova head their respective delegations at the Health Working Group meeting. (Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Moscow)

  • Senior Officials from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Russian Academy of Sciences met in Moscow April 25-26 to begin planning for a November 2011 meeting of the Health Science Forum, a public-private partnership in healthcare and biomedical research. Representatives of international pharmaceutical and healthcare industry companies also participated. In a series of discussions, representatives for the Forum set the agenda, selected a Scientific Committee, and established six working groups according to priorities for collaboration - brain research, cardiovascular diseases, oncology, child care, infectious diseases and translational research. Presentations focused on potential opportunities to implement fundamental scientific achievements into clinical research and practical healthcare, as well as on possibilities for engaging private R&D companies in future Forum activities. The meeting culminated in the signing of an NIH-RAS memorandum of understanding on Cooperation in Basic Biomedical Research. 
Date: 04/25/2011 Description: Roger Glass and Academician Grigoriev sign the MOU on biomedical research. © U.S. Embassy Moscow Image
Roger Glass and Academician Grigoriev signing the MOU on biomedical research (Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Moscow)

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