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Interfax (Moscow, Russia)
Posted on June 5, 2009

By   Peter Cheryomushkin

U.S. Department of State spokesman talked to Russian participants in the Open World Program about some specific features of his work and his special relations with Russia. The participants were press-officers from various regions of the Russian Federation – from the Island of Sakhalin to the Leningrad Region.

Washington, D.C. June 5 INTERFAX – Ian Kelly, Spokesman of the U.S. Department of State, is sure that, despite differences of opinions regarding certain issues between the U.S.A. and Russia, there does exist an opportunity for a positive development of our bilateral relationships. “Currently, despite the existence of certain controversial issues, the U.S.A. and Russia can give a new impetus to our bilateral relationships,” said Kelly during his conversation with participants in the Open World Program. “We shall inevitably have different opinions vis-à-vis a number of issues, for instance, regarding the role of NATO,” said the high-ranking U.S. diplomat.

This said, he still believes that cooperation between Russia and the U.S. in such fields as combating terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the situation in Afghanistan and in the Middle East should be regarded as very feasible.

Kelly also told the group that his ties to Russia go back to 1976 when he started learning Russian at the Department of Russian as Foreign Language at the Leningrad University. In 1987 – 1989, when “reading newspapers became an interesting occupation”, he worked at the U.S. General Consulate in Leningrad and at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. According to Kelly, in recent years, when he was the Director of the Office of Russian Affairs at the State Department, he would start his day reading Interfax News alongside with his usual Washington Post. "I maintain very good relations with many correspondents working in Washington, D.C. but when I come to the State Department podium, I cannot count on their merciful attitude because the U.S. media embrace the tradition of questioning the role and activities of any administration, including its foreign policy, so I may expect the most pointed questions,” said Kelly.

"When the Secretary of State offered me the position of Spokesman, I mentioned to her that it is the second most complicated job at the Department. To which she said that in actuality it the most difficult job because you will find yourself at the very front line at any given time,” underscored Kelly. “I am lucky to have many of our press officers in my camp covering my rear,” added Spokesman.

Responding to a question dealing with the fact that many media outlets in the U.S. are experiencing hard times and have to fire many employees, he said that, “it would be hard to imagine them taking money from the government. This would immediately compromise their independence. This is the philosophy of the U.S. media.”
"My kids do not read newspapers; they get all of the information they need on the Web. As far as I am concerned, it would be hard to give up on the aroma of a fresh newspaper page or the feeling of having a fresh newspaper in your pocket,” said the Spokesman. He also emphasized that, although issues related to Russia still make his heart beat faster, as of recently, he is primarily occupied with other regions of the world, which are currently in the focus of the U.S. foreign policy. According to him, these include the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan, and, most recently, “the reckless behavior” of North Korea.

"Russia is an enormous country with a number of time zones but at the moment I have to deal with issues of numerous other states and the U.S. relations with them,” said the U.S. DOS Spokesman.

The Open World Program is located in the Library of Congress, and participants in the program travel to different parts of the U.S.

[Reprinted with Permission]

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