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Top diplomat urges boost to Russia-US regional contacts amid sanctions

Non-state contacts are very important, Russian regions and states of US West should demonstrate bigger independence in mutually advantageous cooperation, Russia’s ambassador at large says

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, October 7. /TASS/. Russia and the US should more actively develop non-state contacts amid sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine, Russia’s ambassador at large, Vladimir Vinokurov, told a session of Russian American Pacific Partnership (RAPP) in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia’s Sakhalin region.

"I have been working on American direction for a long time, going through a number of crises in bilateral relations, but this one seems to be the gravest so far," said Vinokur, who is also executive secretary of the Russian-American presidential commission.

"Nevertheless, common sense prevails in the long run, and the counties get back to normal cooperation. That is why, non-state contacts are very important. Russian regions and states of US West are located far away from the capitals and should demonstrate bigger independence in mutually advantageous cooperation," Vinokur said.

The forum is aimed at encouraging initiatives, interesting joint projects, said Derek Norberg, Executive Director of RAPP, noting that an expansion of relations was an important, but difficult work.

The policy of import substitution was a motivation for foreign enterprises to come to Russia, said Dmitry Sazhin, a senior officer at the Russian Ministry for Economic Development . "We are often asked what the policy of import substitution means for foreign companies, and whether it is a barrier for them. We say it is not a barrier, but an incentive for coming to Russia," said Sazhin, deputy director of the ministry’s department for Europe, North America and international organizations.

RAPP is the oldest and the only interregional forum of Russia and the United States. Partnership unites private sector, regional and federal governments with an aim to expand trade and cooperation between the east of Russia and the west of the United States. It assembles once a year in Russia and the US on a rotating basis. RAPP brings together representatives from 13 regions in Russia’s East and five states of the US West Coast.