Global Insights: Lavrov’s Visit Reflects U.S.-Russia ‘Normalization’

Global Insights: Lavrov’s Visit Reflects U.S.-Russia ‘Normalization’

One sign of how good relations between Russia and the United States have become is that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spent three days in high-level meetings in Washington without attracting much attention from the American news media. Bilateral ties may finally be evolving, at least for now, into a more mature, almost normal relationship between two great powers sharing common interests as well as limited areas of disagreement.

Lavrov discussed a range of important issues with his American interlocutors, including Libya, Syria, Iran, Korea, Afghanistan, South Sudan, terrorism, the Israel-Palestine peace process, the United Nations and even Alaska and the Bering Strait separating the two countries. But in contrast to past years, these dialogues -- which included sessions with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as several U.S. senators and business leaders -- were more along the lines of respectful exchanges of views, rather than noisy confrontations. Even the contentious issue of European ballistic missile defense seems to pose less of a problem to the broader bilateral relationship.

Lavrov seems to get along much better with Clinton than he did with her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, with the two top diplomats exchanging compliments as they signed several bilateral accords. These included a renewal of an agreement for Russian and American scientists to jointly study the effects of radiation, especially on cancer rates; an accord to make air travel between the two countries safer through enhanced information sharing; and an agreement finalizing a cooperative effort set to begin in 2018 to eliminate 34 metric tons of excess weapon-grade plutonium from both countries' defense programs.

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