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    This photo taken on May 7, 2013 shows Russian and the US flags running up as the US Secretary of State arrives at Moscow Vnukovo Airport

    US-Russia Sister Cities Plan First Summit in 20 Years - SCI Chairman Emeritus

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Sister Cities International was established in the United States about 60 years ago. The global organization has established more than 2,000 partnerships between cities in 146 countries. About 60 Russian and 70 US cities have sister relations.

    "The conference will be held in Russia in late September or early October 2019," Chairman Emeritus of the US-based Sister Cities International (SCI) Bill Boerum told Sputnik on Wednesday. "Sister Cities International and the Union of Russian Cities will jointly develop the conference program," Boerum said.

    Boerum, who serves as Sister Cities International's country representative for Russia, noted that the last similar conference was organized more than two decades ago.

    "I think, a major topic for discussion will be how to work together to identify common challenges for cities," Boerum said.

    The SCI chairman emeritus pointed out that the specific site for the summit has not been not determined yet, but the Russian side is negotiating with a couple of cities to determine who will host the event.

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    Boerum acknowledged that recruiting participants from the United States to participate in the event is a "big challenge."

    "Usually, Americans do not like their mayors to travel outside their cities. They think mayors are traveling for pleasure, while other countries, including Russia, recognize that their cities should promote international relations," Boerum said.

    Boerum also emphasized that Russian and US municipalities may benefit from strengthened bilateral collaboration.

    "There are common challenges that US and Russian cities have. By meeting with each other and doing exchanges, they can have a sense of friendship and cooperation, which is possible on a municipal level and not really possible on the federal level at this time," Boerum said.

    In addition, Bill Boerum told Sputnik that representatives of Russian and US cities located on the shores of the Volga and Mississippi rivers may gather to exchange experiences at the Great Rivers conference.

    "The conference would probably be held in 2020 and may take place in the Russian city of Volgograd," Boerum said. Boerum also noted that "there is an interest from the Russian side in doing this, especially from the Association of Volga Cities."

    "A common aspect for both regions is agriculture. I think, the development of agriculture will be an important topic," Boerum said.

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    conference, agriculture, cooperation, Great Rivers conference, Sister Cities Summit, Sister Cities International (SCI), Bill Boerum, United States, Russia
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