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Ambassador stresses role of sister city relations for mending Russia-US ties

Anatoly Antonov said that the potential of ties between the two countries at the level of cities and regions is yet to be reached

NEW YORK, November 30./TASS/. The development of contacts between Russian and American people, including at the level of cities and regions, is a major task that can have its role in making better relations between the two countries, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said in an article published by the San Francisco Examiner newspaper on Sunday.

"Of course, the potential of ties between the two countries at the level of cities and regions is yet to be reached. Much remains to be done to diversify them and translate the dialogue into concrete projects. Still, the fact that such social, humanitarian and economic contacts find their way-despite the general unfavorable climate of the relations - is encouraging," the Russian diplomat said.

"Our common task is to cultivate these shoots of cooperation in every possible way," Antonov stressed. "They help strengthen mutual understanding between the Russians and the Americans and could be a "safety net" for preventing bilateral contradictions from going too far. We must not forget that the interaction between Moscow and Washington still has a major impact on key global processes and well-being of the entire planet," he pointed out.

University exchanges were developing successfully before the pandemic, he noted. "Here is an example - joint research projects of the University of Alaska and Kamchatka State Technical University and the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. There are also well-established ties between the University of California and the State University of Tyumen," Antonov went on to say.

"Sister city relations are also witnessing a new rise," he stressed. Several events to exchange the experience between representatives of cities and regions in Russia and the US have been organized over the past few months, he reiterated.

"This February a delegation from Albany (New York) visited its sister city Tula," he said. "There is an active dialogue between Moscow and Chicago and Los Angeles, including on the development of the smart city concept. The Russian capital is also actively cooperating with the Houston City Council," he added.

"There are 77 pairs of Russian and American sister cities. We hope that all of them will revive their close ties," Antonov stressed. "It would be great if every state in the U.S. could find a partner among the constituent entities of Russia and outline specific plans and mutually beneficial projects. Such cooperation could help build a stronger foundation for inter-state communication between the two countries," the Russian ambassador summed up.

Presence in US regions

Russian companies are successfully operating in US states, Russian Ambassador to the US said. "Commercial interest is one of the driving forces that push the constituent entities of the Russian Federation to engage in direct dialogue with the U.S. states and vice versa," the Russian diplomat said.

"Many U.S. companies choose to do business outside Moscow and the Moscow region. The footprint of American enterprises can be seen in the Ural -in the Sverdlovsk and Tyumen regions, above all," Anatoly Antonov noted. As another example, he cited "the virtual Texas-Ural conversation held this summer with the participation of entrepreneurs and local authorities. "The topic of the discussion was the prospects for expanding business cooperation," the ambassador reiterated.

"American investments helped launch factories in the Belgorod, Vologda, Lipetsk, Novgorod, Rostov and other regions. Businesses from the United States come to Siberia and the Far East. Ties between the Republic of Tatarstan and California as well as Minnesota are growing stronger, especially in the high-tech sector," he went on to say.

"Russian business is also building up its presence in American regions," he stressed. "Russian metallurgic factories successfully operate in Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Our oil and gas and oilfield service companies are represented in Texas and New York," Antonov added.

The article was timed to the Russian-US forum Fort Ross Dialogue 2020 that opens on November 30.