Agreeing to Disagree

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In the two centuries that Russia and the United States have maintained diplomatic ties, this year is likely to go down as one of the more unsettling periods in the bilateral relationship.

The events of the past 12 months have been seen by many as a harbinger of growing rivalry and mutual apprehension, as numerous disputes have continued to erode a frayed partnership in strategic global affairs.

Even against the background of festivities marking the 200th anniversary on both sides of the ocean, the talk in recent months has focused more on the future of arms treaties and diplomatic discord on issues ranging from Iran and Kosovo to democracy promotion and access of election observers to Russia's parliamentary vote in December.

Still, numerous cultural exchanges and conferences have celebrated the longevity of the U.S.-Russian relationship. The range of this year's events was itself a testament to the enduring curiosity between the two countries and the depth of the existing ties. Symbolic gestures abounded-from a small photography exhibit at the American Center in Novosibirsk and a historic exhibit of American art at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow to a July visit of U.S. Navy vessels to Vladivostok and the opening in November of St. Petersburg's Days of Culture in New York.

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