News / Europe

Obama Letter to Putin Aims for Better Relations

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, G20 Summit, Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, G20 Summit, Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.
x
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, G20 Summit, Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, G20 Summit, Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.
A letter President Barack Obama wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin was aimed at paving the way for improved relations, despite recent diplomatic tensions between Moscow and Washington.  
 
Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that National Security Adviser Tom Donilon delivered Obama's letter in Moscow.  Donilon met Monday with President Putin and other officials.
 
A White House statement said the talks were "comprehensive and constructive" covering the full range of bilateral and global issues.  
 
It said they were preparation for Obama-Putin talks on the margins of the G8 Summit in Britain in June,  and later this year at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg, Russia.
 
The Donilon talks came amid tensions after the U.S. released a list of Russian officials (called the Magnitsky List) alleged to have been involved in human rights violations.  The officials were banned from travel to the U.S. and had U.S. assets frozen.
 
Moscow responded by listing 18 Americans banned from traveling to Russia, including two officials from the George W. Bush administration whom Russia alleges condoned torture, and two former commanders at Guantanamo Bay.
 
Jay Carney suggested Russia could take action to resolve the issue.
 
"One way to resolve this is for the Russian government to take action against, investigate and to take action on those individuals responsible for [Magnitsky's] death.  That is the clear, right response to the international outcry over his death, conduct a proper investigation and hold those responsible for his death accountable, rather than engage in tit for tat retaliation," he said. 
 
Carney would not provide details of Obama's letter.  He delivered a standard administration response on U.S. - Russian relations, saying the two sides have considerable differences on some issues, but also areas where interests align.
 
In Moscow, President Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, described Mr. Obama's letter as "quite constructive" with specific proposals on arms control and economic cooperation.  He said President Putin expressed readiness to support "positive signals" from Washington.
 
Steven Pifer, an expert on U.S. - Russia relations with the Brookings Institution, says both sides appear to be looking to move past recent diplomatic tensions.
 
Pifer says the Donilon visit presented an opportunity to more clearly define issues and areas of common interests, such as nuclear nonproliferation, North Korea, Iran and trade and economic relations.
 
"So the question is, can the sides begin to work more on those issues where they have converging interests, and then you have a relationship where there are some areas where they are working together, and there will be some issues on which we just disagree and it's better to have that combination than have just a relationship that is focusing only on the problem questions," he said. 
 
Pifer says it is difficult to point to any progress on one major sticking point in relations - what to do about the situation in Syria.
 
But two months before the first Obama-Putin talks on the sidelines of the G8 Summit, Pifer says he has heard of what he calls a feeling in Moscow that the conversation with Washington has become more useful.
 

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid