<!-- IMAGE -->
President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev committed to "resetting" U.S.-Russia relations at the recent Moscow summit. Now is the time for both countries to follow up on the goals set by President Obama and President Medvedev.
At the top of the agenda is reaching an agreement on a treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which will reduce the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads and delivery systems by at least one third of the current treaty limitations. The U.S. will also work to implement cooperation on non-proliferation, missile defense, and security and stability in Afghanistan.
The U.S. and Russia have much work to do to boost economic relations. Two-way trade between the United States and Russia, while growing, totaled just $36.1 billion last year. This figure, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon, "is relatively low when compared to our other trade relationships. We believe we can do better."
Several of the Working Groups in the new Bilateral Presidential Commission that Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed to create will focus on joint efforts to remove obstacles to more robust trade and economic relations between the U.S. and Russia. As President Obama noted in Moscow, transparency, accountability, and the rule of law are vital to the health of any economy. And the U.S., said Mr. Gordon, "supports the initiatives of the Russian president to strengthen Russia's legal system and fight corruption." It is also critical that the U.S. and Russia refrain from imposing protectionist measures that stand in the way of economic recovery.
The U.S. supports Russia's accession, as an individual country, to the World Trade Organization, or WTO. WTO membership would integrate Russia into the global rules-based trading system and give American and Russian companies a stronger framework for interaction.
Americans and Russians have important common interests in addition to security and economic issues. They include the development of the rule of law, the strengthening of democracy, and protection of human rights. President Obama and President Medvedev both recognize that the United States and Russia can continue to work together to benefit the people of both countries, while seeking to narrow their differences in an open and mutually respectful way.