- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
Biden backs Russia for spot in WTO
Sees greater trade opportunities
MOSCOW | Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Thursday that Washington supports Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization because it will lead to greater trade between the two countries, what he called the "next frontier" of the relationship.
"It's better for America and I believe better for Russia to be able to trade with each other under predictable and transparent rules," he said in a speech at Moscow State University at the end of a two-day visit that included meetings with Russia's president and prime minister.
Mr. Biden cautioned that to attract more U.S. investment, Russia would have to strengthen the rule of law.
He referred to the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a corporate lawyer who was arrested after accusing law enforcement officials of corruption and then died in prison of an untreated illness. He also scolded Russia over the treatment of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has been in prison since 2003 on politically driven charges.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Biden met with a group of human rights activists, journalists and religious leaders, who said he assured them that the U.S. would take into account Russia's record on democracy and rule of law when considering whether to repeal a WTO-linked law that discriminates against Russian trade.
"Biden basically said that in one way or another Russia's accession to the WTO could depend ... to some degree on how certain human rights issues are being dealt with," said Oleg Orlov, head of the respected Memorial rights group. "He was very receptive to our ideas."
There was no immediate comment from Mr. Biden or his staff on the meeting.
The WTO requires members to extend unconditional most-favored-nation trade status to all other members.
But the U.S. currently denies this status to Russia under the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a law passed in 1974 in an effort to pressure the Soviet Union to allow emigration, primarily of Jews.
Although U.S. presidents have granted Russia annual waivers to the law since 1994, business leaders and officials in the U.S. and Russia complain that the continued existence of the discriminatory law undermines relations.
Congress, however, has so far refused to repeal the law, arguing that it would send the wrong message to Moscow and deprive Washington of leverage in promoting human rights.
Mr. Biden said lifting Jackson-Vanik would be in the best interest of the United States because greater trade would create new jobs. It also would help build a stronger relationship with Russia, he said.
"The next frontier in our relationship in the main area ... will be building stronger ties in trade and commerce that match the security cooperation we have accomplished in the last two years," he said.
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Opinion, analysis, and musings on politics, pop culture, reinvention, and the resultant flotsam and jetsam floating around the right-of-center quadrant of the Left Coast.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!