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Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

Presidents of Russia, China, Japan and Mongolia, as well as the prime minister of South Korea all gave keynote addresses, emphasizing the vast potential of the region and the vital role of joint collaboration in its development. By the time the forum was over, a total of 175 deals worth $42 billion had been signed.

In addition to all the business deals, however, another document, a declaration, calling for the urgent expansion of citizen diplomacy in US-Russia relations, and the establishment of a continuous US-Russia youth dialogue, was also inked in Vladivostok.

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The declaration was written and signed by a very special group of forum participants – the first ever delegation of young leaders from leading US universities such as Columbia, Stanford, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, and the University of Washington.

The group was brought to the Eastern Economic Forum by the Russian-American Cooperation Initiative (RACI), which, according to its website, is a Seattle-based grassroots nonprofit, non-governmental advocacy organization focused on creating and sustaining favorable conditions for long-term and far-reaching cooperation between the United States and Russia.

According to Sergey Gladysh, RACI’s President and CEO, the aim of the trip was to connect young leaders from the US to the people who shape Russia’s present and future, as well as to lay the foundation for meaningful bilateral dialogue among the individuals who are on a trajectory to take on leadership roles in business, politics, and civil society.

“The world is changing at the speed of light. It is becoming more interconnected and interdependent day by day. Meanwhile, the threats and challenges that humanity faces are growing in scale, making them impossible to solve without a truly international effort, led by a US-Russia-China consensus,” said Gladysh.

“As the world’s long-standing nuclear superpowers, US and Russia hold a moral responsibility for preserving global stability and providing international security. The deterioration in relations we have been witnessing over the past decade are extremely alarming, and must be reversed,” he added.

While in Vladivostok, the US student delegation attended a session with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, enjoyed private meetings with the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeev and the Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Youth Affairs Alexander Bugayev, attended multiple presentations by Russia’s leading businessmen, and last but not least – enjoyed a rich cultural program involving ballet and symphony.

While this was the first such delegation to ever attend a high-level forum in Russia, Gladysh hopes it won’t be the last, and is looking forward to bringing additional groups of young leaders from the US to Russia in the coming months.

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