Medvedev Trip to U.S. Unlikely to Help Ties

President Dmitry Medvedev said he will press for reforms to the global financial system at this Saturday's international crisis summit in Washington, but questions about a possible meeting with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's representatives were garnering more attention ahead of his visit.

Medvedev's trip to the G20 summit seemed unlikely to deliver any breakthroughs on troubled U.S.-Russian relations, as little movement is likely before current U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

There were also questions about Medvedev's ability to have his economic message heard in Washington, given Russia's modest economic clout relative to many of the other participants, analysts said.

The confusion over the timing of a first meeting with Obama arose after it became clear that the president-elect would not be in Washington at all.

Even significant substantive talks with Bush were unlikely, as the Kremlin said Thursday that the two might just have a brief bilateral meeting ahead of comprehensive talks between the two scheduled for Nov. 22-23 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru.

Obama's aides said he would remain in Chicago and send a bipartisan duo to Washington. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a Democrat, and former Republican Congressman Jim Leach will hold unofficial meetings on Obama's behalf, his office said in a statement late Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear Thursday evening whether Medvedev would meet with them.

Medvedev had agreed with Obama in a conversation last week to meet "without delay," he said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro circulated by the Kremlin on Thursday.

He said he understood that there were questions over whether it was "appropriate for the president-elect to be present at this kind of event, given that there is still an incumbent president."

In the same interview, Medvedev, who will be making his first trip to the United States since taking office, said the current financial system benefited the United States and discriminated against the rest of the world. He said the world needed a new economic system modeled after Bretton Woods, the 1944 conference in New Hampshire that established international monetary protocols.

"This is a system that should be accepted in all countries and that should work in the interests of all and not in the interests of just one country, even if it is the biggest and strongest," Medvedev said.

Both Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have consistently accused the United States of irresponsibility ahead of the crisis and have called for collective international action, better accounting standards and stronger risk management.

But Arkady Dvorkovich, Medvedev's economic adviser, said Thursday that "everyone should take responsibility" for the crisis and in the concerted effort necessary to deal with it.

Medvedev said he has already sent Russia's proposals to Washington. U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns, the No. 3 official in the State Department, heard Russian proposals during a visit to Moscow earlier this week, U.S. Embassy spokesman David Siefkin said Thursday.

The Kremlin said a paper had been forwarded to all participants of the Washington summit, which comprises leaders of the world's top 20 economies.

Dvorkovich said the proposals include maintaining diverse models of economic development under globalization, improved transparency of financial institutions around the globe, the strengthening of poverty-reduction efforts, stronger risk management strategies and new approaches to food, energy and environmental security.

Nikolai Zlobin, an expert on U.S.-Russian relations at the Washington-based World Security Institute, said Medvedev shouldn't expect to make a big impression in the U.S. capital.

"With less than 3 percent of the global GDP, Russia is hardly a major economic player, and Medvedev will not be a central figure at the G20 summit," Zlobin said.

He was also skeptical over the chances that Russia's proposals would be among the anti-crisis strategies developed by the American and European governments.

Given his harsh criticism of the United States in his first state-of-the-nation address last week and the announcement that Russia would deploy short-range missile systems in the country's western enclave of Kaliningrad targeted at a planned U.S. anti-missile defense installation in Central Europe, Medvedev was unlikely to receive a warm welcome in Washington, Zlobin said.

The dispute over the missile-defense system continued to simmer Thursday as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates rejected outright Medvedev's latest proposal to end the crisis.

Apart from the meeting with Bush, Medvedev is also scheduled to have individual talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Kremlin said.

The president will also speak at the Washington branch of the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the most influential groups on U.S. foreign policy.

Maria Lipman, a political analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center, described any hope that Medvedev's visit would achieve any breakthrough in Russian-U.S. relations as "nonsensical" but said the Kremlin might portray the visit as a diplomatic success, as the leaders in attendance are likely to be too occupied with the crisis to criticize Russia.

"We will be told that Medvedev in the U.S. actively participated in working out the strategies to deal with the global financial crisis," Lipman said.