SKOLKOVO, Russia (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is visiting Moscow to further reset ties between the Kremlin and the White House, called on Russia to eradicate endemic corruption and improve its legal system.
Speaking to business leaders at Russia's Skolkovo management school, Biden said Friday that "investors are looking for assurances that the legal system treats them fairly and acts on their concerns swiftly."
Foreign businesses have identified corruption and a weak judiciary as among the main stumbling blocks to boosting investment in Russia. The anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International ranks Russia 147th out of 180 in its global corruption index — on par with Zimbabwe.
Biden's agenda during his two-day trip includes pushes for Russia to become more integrated in the world economic system. To boost its stability, Biden expressed strong support for Russia's long-standing attempts to join the World Trade Organization.
His itinerary includes meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and representatives of Russia's beleaguered opposition groups.
The address and the results of his meetings with Russia's leadership duo will be closely parsed at home, where Obama's policies run head-on into newly confident congressional Republicans who are frequently suspicious of Russia.
The signal achievement of Obama's Russia policy to date, the New START arms-control treaty, was ratified by the U.S. Senate only after extensive efforts to bring hesitant Republicans on board.
Also Wednesday, Biden and Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov witnessed the signing of an agreement for national flagship airline Aeroflot to buy six B-777 airliners from Boeing. There was no amount given on the contract.