Biden, in Russia, turns to talk of trade

By Will Englund
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 3:12 PM

MOSCOW - Vice President Biden told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Wednesday that he had been around Washington so long he actually knew Sen. Henry Jackson and Rep. Charles Vanik, authors of a 1974 trade restriction law that is still an irritant in U.S.-Russian relations. It is high time to get rid of it, he said.

At Medvedev's country estate outside Moscow, Biden emphasized Washington's support for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization. But at a meeting with Russian and U.S. business leaders earlier in the day at Skolkovo, the site Medvedev hopes to turn into Russia's Silicon Valley, Biden also stressed that Russia must do more to shore up the rule of law and to tackle "endemic corruption."

Russia's business climate, he said, is particularly difficult for small- and medium-size enterprises.

Medvedev said the two countries had improved their political relationship over the past year but need to work on economic issues. Investment and trade between the United States and Russia are both at relatively low levels.

As Biden looked on, Boeing and Aeroflot signed a $2 billion deal Wednesday under which the Russian airline will buy eight planes from the U.S. manufacturer.

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