Russia Eyes Fresh US Trade Deal

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By Shane Croucher | December 13, 2013 2:04 AM EST

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with US President Barack Obama - but will they shake hands on a new trade deal? (Reuters)

Russia hopes to seal a new trade deal with the US as officials from both states meet in Washington.

Within just a year there could be a bilateral investment treaty on the table for both parties to sign, an anonymous Russian official told Bloomberg, though it would fall short of a full free trade deal.

Talks between the US and Russia may resumed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which is taking place in January.

During the Russian visit, there have been meetings involving US Trade Representative Michael Froman, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, among others.

In 2012, there was just $40bn of trade between the two powerhouse economies. It accounted for 1% of overall US trade.

Despite the end of the Cold War with the fall of the Berlin Wall more than two decades before, there are still fraught tensions between the two historic enemies.

Most recently, these tensions have surfaced in Ukraine amid a conflict between masses of protestors and the government over a trade deal.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych pulled his government out of talks with the European Union over a trade pact, in favour of closer ties with Russia.

This angered many Ukrainians, who for days have taken to the street to demonstrate - at the height of which a statue of Russian revolutionary communist Vladimir Lenin in the centre of Kiev was toppled - against cosying up to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

Police attempted to crack down on the protests by using brute force, but were pulled back after outcry from world leaders, including the US, which wants Ukraine to seal a trade pact with the EU over more ties with Russia.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has also condemned the police action.

"The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kiev's Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity," he said.

"This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy."

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