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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid