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Obama Officials Urge Congress To Ease Trade With Russia Despite Rights Concerns


U.S. Trade Representitive Ron Kirk (left, with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov) said repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment would ensure that U.S. companies will benefit from Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.

U.S. Trade Representitive Ron Kirk (left, with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov) said repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment would ensure that U.S. companies will benefit from Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.

U.S. administration officials have urged a congressional panel to approve a bill aimed at improving trade ties with Russia without tying it to human rights concerns.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said repealing the 1974-era Jackson-Vanik amendment, which penalized Russia over Jewish emigration, would ensure that U.S. companies will benefit from Russia's August entry into the World Trade Organization.

But Representative Sander Levin (Democrat-Michigan) spoke for many members of Congress who want to tie the repeal to a bill aimed at punishing Russian officials for the custody death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told the panel that while the White House had "serious concerns about democracy and human rights in Russia," trade relations should remain separate from other matters.

Based on reporting by "The Hill," "The Wall Street Journal," and Reuters
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