LAVROV AND CLINTON PUSHED BUTTON

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PUTIN-BIDEN COMMISSION TO BE ESTABLISHED AFTER THE MEETING OF THE PRESIDENTS IN LONDON

Sergei Lavrov and Hillary Clinton met in Geneva to catalog the problems marring the Russian-American relations.


The first meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US State Secretary Hillary Clinton in Geneva last Friday was not about solutions to the problems existing in the bilateral relations. Lavrov and Clinton met to try and list the problems. The diplomats agreed that the Russian-American relations were in need of "resetting" which would be handled by a permanent commission under Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Vice President Joseph Biden.

Clinton came to the meeting with a souvenir for Lavrov – a red button marked “Reset” in two languages. When the misunderstanding caused by the wrong translation of “Reset” into Russian was cleared (the Russian word for it was “Reload”), the diplomats solemnly pushed the button. It is hard to believe that there are no more specialists in the Russian language in the US Department of State capable of telling “reset” from “reload”, so that the impression was that it was all deliberate. It was Clinton’s way of saying that there were lots of problems between the United States and Russia and that their solution required both time and nonconventional thinking. “Problems between Russia and the United States will only be solved at the level of the heads of states,” Aleksei Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center commented.

Presidential meetings face to face the first of which will take place at the G20 summit in London this April cannot be expected to offer solutions. “The presidents cannot stay in touch permanently,” Alexander Rahr of the German Foreign Policy Council said. “Either new forms should be invented for establishment of genuinely strategic bilateral relations between Russia and the United States, or worthwhile old ones recalled and used again.”

The matter concerns revival of the permanent commission chaired by the Russian premier and American vice president. “The Gore-Chernomyrdin commission back in the 1990s enabled Russia and America to solve the problems in the bilateral relations as they cropped up. Chairmen of the commission wielded sufficient powers,” Rahr said. The German analyst was confident that the heads of the Russian and American diplomatic ministries would certainly consider establishment of a panel such as this under Putin and Biden. On the other hand, announcement of establishment of such a commission is not for ministers to make. Putin-Biden commission would be established after the meeting between Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama in London. A source in Russian diplomatic circles confirmed it. “Considering the crisis, each president has too many things to do at home,” the source said. “Medvedev and Obama are all too willing to let more experienced Putin and Biden handle foreign political matters.”

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