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Russian ambassador: Moscow-Washington cooperation much more fruitful than widely thought

October 23, 2013, 13:14 UTC+3

Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak took part in a roundtable discussion on U.S.-Russian relations

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WASHINGTON, October 23 (Itar-Tass) — Cooperation between Moscow and Washington is much more fruitful than it is generally assumed, but it still has a huge untapped potential, Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak stressed on Tuesday at a roundtable discussion on U.S.-Russian relations.

The event, organized by Washington’s news research organization — the Centre on Global Interests (CGI), which was created by political scientist Nikolai Zlobin, was held at the Russian embassy to the United States. Taking part in the seminar, along with Kislyak and Zlobin, who chaired the discussion, were also the respected retired American diplomats — Thomas Pickering and Steven Pifer.

Kislyak complained that the bilateral relations are “still underdeveloped, given their potential.” This potential of interaction of both in the political and economic spheres is much greater than the current two-way work of Russia and the United States, and all parties concerned realize it, the ambassador said. At the same time, he stated, “together we do much more” than observers believe, as a rule.

Pickering and Pifer fully agreed with Kislyak’s observation. Pickering had once occupied the post of the U.S. ambassador in Moscow and then he was Under Secretary of State. Pilfer had served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. In connection with the Russian ambassador’s remarks, Pickering recalled, raising laughter of the audience, an aphorism of Mark Twain, who once said that “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” However, the Russian-American relations would certainly benefit if the sides more distinctly state their positions to each other and cut the surprise period, Pickering believes. Pifer for his part expressed the view that frictions in the bilateral relations often arise because of the domestic political considerations.

According to Kislyak, Russia calls, in particular, for the intensification of contacts between ordinary citizens and dialogue between the two countries’ legislators, for “less drama and exaggeration... for more regularity” in the bilateral dialogue.

Pifer also admitted that there is really a “certain anti-Russian sentiment” in the U.S. Congress, which is clearly manifested in the Jackson-Vanik amendment that has been kept in force for many years, as well as the development of the so-called “Magnitsky Act,” which has been applied only to Russia.

Kislyak also expressed the hope that cooperation between Moscow and Washington, which has made it possible to conclude an agreement on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, would not be limited to the things attained in this sphere, but would also help the sides to proceed to the next stage — the organization of the negotiations on a political settlement of the Syrian Arab Republic’s internal armed conflict.

Pickering for his part called for efforts to ensure in Syria a ceasefire regime for the removal of chemical weapons from the country for their destruction abroad and then take advantage of this pause for the development of a political dialogue between the warring parties. In addition, Pickering condemned the attempts of the Syrian opposition and some other sides to put forward some preconditions for the participation in the Geneva 2 conference and described as “ridiculous” the demands of those who even ahead of the meeting insist on settling the key issues by means of forming a new government in Damascus.

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