Russian president’s aide outlines expectations for G8 summit in USA

Russian presidential aide Arkadiy Dvorkovich has that Russia’s involvement in the G8 summit at Camp David would not be any less significant despite the absence of President Vladimir Putin. He also said that the summit would see "informal" discussions of topical international security issues, including Syria and Iran, however stressed that adopting coordinated international positions on such topics was the prerogative of the UN Security Council. He also commented on the so-called Magnitskiy bill, which may replace the Jackson-Vanik amendment in the USA, describing it as "unacceptable" for Russia.

G8 summit

The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Dvorkovich as saying that "all leaders are ready for full-fledged work with the chairman of the Russian government at the G8 summit," when asked for his view about the possible impact of Vladimir Putin’s absence at the summit. "Dmitriy Anatolyevich Medvedev has been involved in many summits and has a great deal of experience with such formats," he added.

As regards expectations for the G8 summit itself, Dvorkovich noted that "the tone of the G8 will be as informal as possible, this was the idea of our American partners," as reported by Interfax. Speaking about the G8 discussion of global security in general, and specific cases such as Syria and Iran, Dvorkovich said: "The most important thing for us here is adhering to the principles that we observed previously. We would also like to stop attempts to introduce into the G8 declarations, the G8 statement, conclusions drawn by the leaders of provisions that were imposed during the drafting of the decisions of the UN Security Council. We believe that the main platform for addressing these issues, for adopting consolidated positions is precisely the UN Security Council, whereas these topics can be informally discussed at the G8".

In a later Interfax report, Dvorkovich elaborated on Russia’s vision for the G8’s position on Syria. "From our point of view, the G8 should send a strong signal to all conflicting groups (in Syria – Interfax) about our view of the way in which they should all act to make the situation safer for everyone – both inside the country and for the surrounding countries of the whole world. We are talking about the need for peaceful actions from both the authorities and those who are protesting against the authorities," he said. He pointed out that the G8 declaration on Syria has not yet been finalized. "We are continuing our work. There is still disagreement on the specific version of the text of the declaration, but this is normal," he said.

On the topic of the European missile shield , Dvorkovich said this would not be discussed at the summit itself, but rather on its sidelines. "These issues will remain in the field of vision of Russia and all sides for the nearest months, the nearest years. I think we are gradually moving forward, but very-very slowly," he said.

Russia-USA relations

Interfax also carried Dvorkovich’s comments on the state of Russian-US relations. "The ‘reset’ has already taken place, although this does not mean that 100 per cent of the people in Russia and 100 per cent of the people in the USA, including those at a senior political level, have changed their attitudes to our bilateral relationship," Dvorkovich said. He lamented the fact that "many people still hold on to the biases of the past and Cold War times".

One of the current sore points of two-way ties concerns the withdrawal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and the introduction of the so-called Magnitskiy bill. Interfax quoted Dvorkovich as saying that "replacing the Jackson-Vanik amendment with another law which would solve new political problems that have been imagined or perceived by certain American congressmen and senators is not acceptable for us," he said.

At the same time, he said that Russia was conscious of the fact that "there are politics, there is the treatment of specific criminal and judicial processes that have happened in Russia – this is a perfectly ordinary situation". "But taking this to the level of inter-state relations seems very strange to us, and we will be forced to respond in this case, of course. We don’t understand why our countries need this," he added.

He said that Obama and Medvedev would discuss this issue as well, "although there is not much to talk about here, since this is a domestic issue between the American Congress and the American administration". Moreover, he said that Jackson-Vanik caused more problems for American companies which "will continue to suffer from the non-applicability of WTO norms to Russian-American trade" after Russia completes its WTO accession.

As regards the fact the White House announcement that Barack Obama will not be coming to the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Dvorkovich said such conclusions were premature. "There are still several months until the APEC summit, so we cannot say yet whether President Obama will be there or not, it is too early to discuss this issue," Dvorkovich said, RIA Novosti reported.

Source: RIA Novosti news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0646 and 0641 gmt 17 May 12; Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0624, 0713, 0727 and 0732 gmt 17 May 12

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