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Hawaiians ready to help Russians get visa regime easing with US

November 10, 2011, 15:19 UTC+3

Hawaiians are ready to help the Russians in the efforts to facilitate the visa regime with the United States

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HONOLULU (Hawaii), November 10 (Itar-Tass) — Hawaiians are ready to help the Russians in the efforts to facilitate the visa regime with the United States. The leading local politicians - Vice Governor of the state Brian Schatz and Mayor (Head of Administration) of the largest island of Hawaii that gave the name to the entire state, Billy Kenoi, made this statement to Itar-Tass. Both also referred to the authority of the patriarch of the Hawaiian policy, 87-year old Senator Daniel Inouye. As the senior in the service record Senator of the United States, he chairs the upper house of the Federal Congress in the absence of Vice President Joseph Biden, in addition, Inouye heads the Senate’s key Committee on Appropriations.

Honolulu currently hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the final part of which will be held at the summit level. Naturally, Hawaii is hoping that this will allow the state to gain a foothold on the position of one of the key centres of regional cooperation - not even just a “crossroads” of routes between the East and West, which is passed without stopping, but an “anchor,” a venue of regular meetings. They are also interested in further development of the tourism industry - the traditional “engine” of its economy, as well as expansion of investment and trade interaction with partners in the Asia Pacific region. But at the same time they remain an American state with strict visa restrictions for citizens of most countries, including such leading regional powers like Russia and China.

Hawaiian authorities understand that such barriers should be reduced, and they believe that this is possible. We really believe that progress will be achieved on the visa front, Schatz said on this matter. Our Senior Senator Daniel Inouye has made it a priority in his work. And he is the most influential senator in the United States.

Mayor Kenoi also pins his hopes on Inouye. We ask him to use his seniority and influence in Washington to address the issue of removing visa barriers at least for Hawaii - as a gateway of the whole country, he said.

It is interesting that Schatz also believes it is “technically possible” to facilitate the visa regime in one particular state. But he still believes that the “real reform will take place at the level of relationship between the federal governments” of the countries concerned.

What will ultimately happens - whether it be an exception to the visa rules, as we did with South Korea, or just a simplification and modernisation of the process and the expansion of the embassies’ staff, time will tell, said the vice governor of Hawaii. But we do believe that it meets our mutual interests to improve the visa process.

Kenoi also recalled that the United States originally was based on immigration, on the invitation of the best and most intelligent people from around the world. And now we instead put barriers to the Russians or Chinese, he said with undisguised indignation. There’s innovation, there is capital. And we hope that the current APEC summit will also help over time to eliminate these barriers.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will have at least seven bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Honolulu on November 11-13, presidential adviser Arkady Dvorkovich said earlier. Dvorkovich said on Wednesday that first, President Medvedev would meet with his US counterpart Barack Obama. The presidential adviser said the meeting would be long by time and focus on many issues. According to Dvorkovich, the agenda of other meetings is being finalised. The Russian leader will have talks with the Japanese prime minister and the Chinese chairman on the sidelines of the summit, the presidential adviser said. He also said participants in the APEC summit would hold informal talks in houses of Hawaii residents. Dvorkovich, who is preparing the agenda of President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Honolulu, said local residents would be able to meet with the leaders of companies of different APEC countries. Speaking at a press briefing, the presidential adviser said, “Several sessions will take place within the APEC summit with the participation of the leaders.” Dvorkovich said the Russian and US presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, would discuss in Honolulu US anti ballistic missile defence, European security, the situation in the Middle East and in North Africa.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is the premier economic organisation in the Asia-Pacific region. Established in 1989 by 12 economies, including the United States, APEC fosters growth and prosperity by facilitating economic cooperation and expanding trade and investment throughout the region, according to the forum’s website. APEC’s 21 member economies today account for 55 percent of global GDP, purchase 58 percent of US goods exports, and comprise a market of 2.7 billion consumers. Seven of America’s top 15 trade partners are in APEC.

Through APEC, the United States works to create jobs and growth by tackling a wide range of economic issues critical to long-term prosperity. To achieve its goals, APEC combines bottom-up efforts by technical officials and experts with meetings of senior officials, ministers, and leaders to ensure that high-level commitments are translated into tangible progress. APEC works closely with the private sector and other stakeholders to ensure that activities reflect the region’s economic needs.

The United States hosts APEC in 2011 for the first time since 1993. Meetings will take place in Washington, DC; Big Sky, Montana; and San Francisco, California, culminating in the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii in November 2011.

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