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 Post subject: Biden Lukewarm on Putin's Visa Idea
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 11 Mar 2011 16:06 
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Biden Lukewarm on Putin's Visa Idea

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In his final public appearance in Moscow, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday chose to ignore a stunning proposal to cancel visas between his country and Russia and instead stressed how rule of law could attract investors.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin voiced the idea of visa-free travel during talks just hours before Biden's speech at Moscow State University to U.S. and Russian business people, State Duma lawmakers and students.

Moscow had never before brought up the issue of abolishing visas with Washington, at least at such a high level.

In support of the proposal, Putin said the abolition of visas would kill old stereotypes in bilateral relations.

"We would turn a very important page in our past and start all over again," he said. "It would create an absolutely new moral atmosphere" between the countries.

The move — also widely seen as a potential catalyst for tourism and business — would be "historic" if reached before the European Union agrees to visa-free travel with Russia, Putin said. Moscow and Brussels have been negotiating an end to visas with slow progress.

As Putin spoke, Biden interjected by saying, "Good idea." The remark prompted Putin to add that Biden could help promote the proposal as a senior member of the U.S. administration and someone who has "weight" in Congress.

Biden replied ambiguously.

"Mr. Prime Minister, in case you haven't noticed, there's a real difference between being president and vice president," he said, according to a transcript of the remarks on the White House web site. "The very good news is the president and I agree 100 percent on the need to continue to establish a closer and closer relationship."

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce
event at Moscow State University on Thursday.


More: Moscow times - 11 March 2011 - By Anatoly Medetsky

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