While the president and other party leaders wound down the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was en route to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Vladivostok, Russia for high-level meetings with world officials.
The secretary's policy agenda going into the summit was vast, covering everything from the environment and scientific cooperation to trade and the economy and security issues both in the region and elsewhere.
Clinton kicked off her meetings in Vladivostok this morning with a working breakfast with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The two diplomats discussed the U.S.-Russian bilateral economic relationship, Syria, Iran and the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
On Syria, Clinton told Lavrov it was worth trying again to pass a UN Security Council resolution on the conflict but only if "there are real consequences for noncompliance," State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
"It was another appeal to look at what we already have agreed with the Russians," Nuland added, saying Clinton will re-assert her strong concern regarding continued violence between Syrian rebels and government forces in a meeting tonight scheduled with President Vladimir Putin.
Lavrov and Clinton also briefly discussed Iran and their continued efforts through the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the U.S. and Germany) to halt the country's nascent nuclear program.
After congratulating Russia on its official accession into the World Trade Organization, Clinton and Lavrov discussed additional cooperation in Antarctic research.
The two later signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in the Antarctic and a Joint Statement on Strengthening U.S.-Russian Inter-Regional Cooperation.
The MOU will improve "coordination of bilateral policies, science, logistics, search and rescue, training, and public outreach in Antarctica" while also upping efforts to increase local-level U.S.-Russia economic and cultural ties.
This weekend, the U.S.-Russian visa agreement will also come into force. The agreement will extent visa stay times for both Russian and U.S. citizens in the respective countries while lowering visa fees and removing the necessity of some visa issuance documents.
"This is another very important moment in U.S.-Russian relations," Clinton said of the visa agreement during the bilateral MOU signing ceremony with Lavrov.
Vladivostok is the last stop of a six-nation trip for the widely-traveled secretary. She is slated to return to the U.S. after the APEC CEO Summit meetings in Russia today and tomorrow.
by RTT Staff Writer
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