- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2002

U.S.-Russia agenda
Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, expects that this week's summit between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will produce a turning point in U.S.-Russia relations.
Although a major arms-control pact is receiving most of the attention, the summit also will focus on economic and civic relations, Mr. Vershbow told reporters in Moscow.
"The summit may go down in history as the point of transition to a very different agenda, an agenda in which non-security issues become more and more the focal point of our relations with Russia," he said in the news conference last week. "We are increasingly becoming allies in the fullest sense of the word."
Mr. Vershbow noted that trade with Russia was about 1 percent of U.S. commerce worldwide.
"We have barely tapped the potential for trade and investment," he said.
Mr. Vershbow said Russia needs to streamline its bureaucratic regulations and reduce corruption in order to attract more American investment.
He played down recent disputes involving steel and poultry. The United States imposed anti-dumping duties on Russian steel, and Russia responded with a temporary ban on U.S. chicken imports.
"These will eventually be viewed as nothing more than bumps on the road to a larger and mutually beneficial trade relationship," he said.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin will meet Friday and Saturday and are expected to sign an arms deal that will cut each nation's nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200. Each country currently has about 6,000.

Kudos from Kazakhstan
The Kazakhstan Embassy has sent its congratulations on the 20th anniversary of The Washington Times.
"At times of calm and stress, The Washington Times proved to be a reliable and timely source of hard news and strong opinions for many," the embassy said in an e-mail to Embassy Row.

New at Brookings
Richard C. Bush III, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, is joining the Brookings Institution as director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies.
Mr. Bush has been head of the institute, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, since 1997.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Afghan Interior Minister Younis Qanouni, who meets National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca, Assistant Secretary of State for Narcotics and Law Enforcement Rand Beers and Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, the coordinator for counterterrorism.
Muratbek Imanaliev, a former minister of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Mykola Melnichenko, former bodyguard to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who made secret recordings of Mr. Kuchma's conversations. He testified before a federal grand jury on accusations that Mr. Kuchma approved the sale of an anti-aircraft radar system to Iraq in violation of the U.N. embargo. He addresses Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Slovak Deputy Defense Minister Rastislav Kacer, who meets Bruce Jackson of the U.S. Committee on NATO. On Thursday, he has meetings at the Pentagon with members of Congress and with the Heritage Foundation. On Friday, he meets officials at the State Department and National Security Council and discusses Slovakia's bid to join NATO with guests of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Bajram Rexhepi, prime minister of the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, who addresses the United States Institute of Peace.
Brazilian Agriculture Minister Marcus Vinicius Pratini de Moraes, who opens a U.S.-Brazil agribusiness forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
Hussain Sinjari, president of the Iraq Institute for Democracy, who participates in an American University forum on the prospects of political change in Iraq.

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