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Biden's Moscow visit reaffirms US-Russia 'reset'

Vice President Biden's two-day visit to Russia was aimed at bolstering economic ties. He also called on the Kremlin to take a harder line against corruption.

By Correspondent / March 10, 2011

US Vice President Joe Biden (l.) shakes hands with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 10. The talks in Moscow are expected to focus on missile defense cooperation and Russia's efforts to join the World Trade Organization.

Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/AP

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Moscow

US Vice President Joe Biden, the man who coined the phrase "push the reset button" in reference to US-Russia relations, stopped by the Kremlin this week to check how the program was loading and propose some upgrades.

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Though Mr. Biden's two-day visit to Moscow was unmarked by either controversy or any key achievement, he appears to have assured Russians that the US remains committed to the new relationship.

That confidence boost may be needed, because upcoming challenges include finding common ground on the thorny issue of Eurasian missile defense, inducting Russia into the World Trade Organization (WTO), expanding cooperation on regional problems like Iran and Afghanistan, and what to do about the turmoil shaking the Middle East.

"The reset was a transition from a period of almost no constructive relations under George W. Bush to the normal and fruitful dialogue we see today," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a leading Moscow foreign policy journal. He says the two-year reset brought major accomplishments, including the signing of the first post-cold war comprehensive arms control treaty, New START, a Russian end to arms sales to Iran, and Moscow's help in forging a resupply corridor for the embattled NATO mission in Afghanistan through former Soviet territory.

"The original list of things-to-do in the reset has been completed, and now the relationship must move ahead to fresh tasks," says Mr. Lukyanov. "Biden came to Moscow to set the agenda for the future."

Russia's WTO bid

Biden, who met with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his visit, had set trade and economic relations as his priority, including assisting Russia in overcoming the final hurdles to entering the WTO. Moscow's on-again-off-again bid to join the global trade regime appears to be serious this time, and Biden told Mr. Medvedev at a Kremlin meeting Wednesday that the US wants to be helpful in building economic bridges.

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