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Biden, Putin discuss trade, missile defense

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 21, 2011
US Vice President Joe Biden and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday discussed Moscow's goal of joining the World Trade Organization and missile defense cooperation, the White House said.

Biden and Putin talked about "the Obama administration's commitment to terminate" the application to Russia of a Cold War-era US law that blocks certain non-market economies that restrict emigration from joining the WTO.

They also discussed "next steps on missile defense cooperation" and "agreed on the importance of continuing momentum in relations between the United States and Russia," according to a White House statement.

"Vice President Biden underscored the continued need for cooperation between the United States and Russia on global security issues and pledged to continue to work with Russia on facilitating travel between our two countries," it said.

Moscow needs Washington to stop applying the so-called Jackson-Vanik law to Russia in order to gain US "permanent normal trade relations" -- and be cleared for WTO accession.

Russia is the last major economic power to lack WTO membership.

The conversation came a day after Putin needled the United States over its deficits and national debt and accused Washington of "behaving like a hooligan" by flooding world markets with devalued dollars.

"Look at their trade balance, look at the budget deficit, at the debt of the United States," Putin said in closing comments to his annual address to parliament.

"We have none of that -- and, I hope, we never will," Putin said to a strong round of applause.

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