Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The moment Obama ignores Berlusconi's handshake at G8 summit

It might not have been the best start for the host of the G8 summit. Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi offered his hand to Barack Obama, only for the U.S. President to carry on walking and seemingly ignore it. Obama was arriving for the traditional family picture on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy.
Berlusconi attempted to greet the U.S. President as he arrived but Obama walked off leaving the Italian's hand empty.

Obama offers critique, cooperation to Russia

MOSCOW -- President Barack Obama laid out a vision of greater cooperation between the United States and Russia on Tuesday in a speech that also contained thinly veiled criticism of the Kremlin's authoritarian style of rule.

Washington and Moscow have shared interests that should lead to broader cooperation, Obama said during the last day of his trip to the Russian capital. ''America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia,'' he said. However, the president added that ``unfortunately, there is sometimes a sense that old assumptions must prevail . . . a 19th-century view that we are destined to vie for spheres of influence.''


His critique seemed directed at the Russian leadership, which repeatedly has asserted that it has a ''privileged'' sphere of power in the region that the Soviet Union once dominated. Last week, Obama said that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer who is widely viewed as the man in charge of Russian policy, has ``one foot in the old ways of doing business.''

Obama delivered his message to the graduating class of the New Economic School, a group he described as being born after ``the darkest hours of the Cold War.''

While he said that it was up to Russia to choose its own course, Obama told the audience he agreed with President Dmitry Medvedev about the need for an effective legal system. Critics of the government often complain about corruption, and sometimes use it as a sort of code to express wider discontent with Kremlin policy.

Russia ranked behind Uganda, Kazakhstan, and Yemen in the most recent Transparency International survey of corruption.

''The arc of history shows that governments which serve their own people survive and thrive; governments which serve only their own power do not,'' Obama said.

Before delivering his address, Obama had breakfast with Putin in his the prime minister's heavily guarded suburban home.

Putin acknowledged that U.S.-Russia relations have experienced ``periods of, shall we say, grayish mood.''

During the past year, Russia has invaded Georgia -- a U.S. ally -- and cut gas supplies to Ukraine, also a U.S. ally.

The meeting , their first, stretched more than half an hour longer than expected.


Afterward, a senior Obama administration official signaled that the president was backing off his earlier assessment of Putin or at least curtailing explicit criticism in public. Asked about Obama's ''one foot'' comment, the official said that, ``I would say that he's very convinced that the prime minister is a man of today and has got his eyes firmly on the future.''

That official, and a second who also briefed reporters, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The two officials said that there were topics on which Obama and Putin found common interest: anti-terrorism measures, arms control, climate change and energy security.

McClatchy special correspondent Alla Burakovskaya contributed to this report.

G8 backs Pakistan on terrorism war

L'AQUILA: G8 leaders expressed solidarity with Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban and called on Afghanistan to ensure credible and safe elections reflecting the people's will.

The Group of Eight summit in Italy said in a statement on Wednesday that they "stand with Pakistan" in its fight against the recent surge in Taliban activity in the northwest of the country, where the Pakistan military is trying to push back a growing insurgency.

The G8 statement also called on neighbouring Afghanistan to ensure that its second presidential election, scheduled for Aug. 20 is "credible, inclusive (and) secure", reflecting the will of the Afghan people.

China's Rebiya Kadeer Terror Crimes

China Daily
Crime against humanity

Let all "human rights" hypocrites shut up. No pretext can justify the heinous atrocities against innocent citizens in the Urumqi riot on Sunday.
The indiscriminate carnage turned Urumqi into a city of terror that night, leaving hundreds dead or injured without knowing why. No sane mind can stand the images of savage brutality brimming the TV screen. Skeletons of burnt vehicles, smashed and looted stores, helpless victims lying weltering in blood Our blood boils seeing the sanguinary mobs rampaging their way through the otherwise charming city.
That is crime against humanity.
Perpetrators must be ferreted out. Justice must be done. And a clear and loud message must be sent: This country has zero tolerance for ethnic hatred.
"Human rights" preachers and Uygur separatists have already stood facts on their heads, portraying the killing, burning, looting and smashing as a "peaceful" rally. As was evident throughout the March 14, 2008 unrest in Lhasa, such people don't mind lying when it serves their political ends.Judging from information available thus far, the Urumqi riot was closely associated with instigation from overseas. Overseas Uygur separatists took advantage of the June 26 incident at a Guangdong toy factory where two Uygur workers were killed in a violent conflict between Uygur and other employees. That tragedy itself was the result of a malicious rumor.Now, the instigators played on that rumor and used it to sow hostility between the Han and Uygur peoples.On one hand, they wanted the Uygur mobsters to be "braver" and make "bigger" noises. On the other, they are again feigning innocence to swindle sympathy out of the uninformed overseas public.
Little doubt some people from their angry audience will be pointing fingers in wrong directions. But outside noises should not be allowed to influence law enforcement at home. We have our Criminal Law. And during the riots, criminal offenses took place.
Overseas Uygur instigators fanned up racial tensions on the grounds that the authorities "unfairly" handled the Shaoguan incident, packaging a common criminal case into one of racial confrontation. Which is groundless in itself, because investigation of the Shaoguan case is still underway. How can there be an "unfair" conclusion?Yet their awkward tactic does reveal an insidious plot to poison relations between the Han and Uygur peoples. To that end, they will do everything to portray investigation of crimes as driven by what they termed as racial discrimination against the Uygurs.Every citizen in this country should be equal under the law, no matter who he or she is. Uygur or not, those who committed crimes in the Urumqi rioting must be held accountable.

Xinjiang capital returning calm after ravaged by riot

China, URUMQI: Riot-plagued Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was slowly returning calm but traffic blockade remained in some streets Monday night after the riot on Sunday evening killed at least 156 people. Police officers were seen wearing riot gear and standing guard in downtown areas. Police vehicles kept patrolling the blockaded streets including Xinhua South Road and Renmin Road Monday night.

Debris has been cleared from most of the roads, but few people were seen in major markets or buses.

Bus stations near the People's Square, where the riot started, were cancelled. Most shops in areas where the violence occurred remained closed as of Monday night.

Up to now 156 people have been confirmed dead and more than 800 were injured in the riot.

Rioters burned 261 motor vehicles, including 190 buses, at least 10 taxis and two police cars, said Liu Yaohua, the region's police chief.

Police have detained about 700 people in connection with the riot, including a dozen who were suspected of fanning the unrest. Police are still searching for about 90 other key suspects in the city. Liu said.

Pakistani president Asif Zardari admits creating terrorist groups

Asif Zardari told a meeting of former senior civil servants in Islamabad, it was time to be honest about their deployment.
"Let us be truthful to ourselves and make a candid admission of the realities," he said. "The terrorists of today were the heroes of yesteryears until 9/11 occurred and they began to haunt us as well."

These groups were not thrown up because of government weakness, but as a matter of policy. He said they were deliberately "created and nurtured" as a policy to achieve some short-term tactical objectives.
His comments amount to an admission that Pakistan trained Islamic terrorists to launch attacks on India as part of its long war over its claim on Kashmir.
It came as at least 40 people were killed in a suspected US missile strike in north-west Pakistan.
Three US drones are believed to have fired missiles at militants near Ladha in South Waziristan. It is the third strike in two days and follows strikes in which 19 reportedly died.
Mr Zardari first confirmed that many of the Islamic militants now waging war against his government were once "strategic assets" in an interview with the Daily Telegraph earlier this week.
"I don't think anybody in the establishment supports them any more. I think everybody has become more wise than this," he said and confirmed the military was now targeting those it had previously used as proxies in attacks on India.
Islamic militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, have long been regarded as Pakistan proxy forces by diplomats and intelligence services but Islamabad has, until now, always denied any links.
The LeT is believed to have been created to fight with the Afghan Mujahideen against the former Soviet-backed Najibullah regime in Kabul and to attack Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is believed to have been responsible for the commando attack on Delhi's Red Fort in December in which two soldiers and a civilian were killed. It was involved with another Pakistan-backed terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed in the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament before it was banned by Islamabad in 2002.
Pakistan terrorists were also behind the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet which forced the Indian government to release three jailed militants, including Masood Azhar, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was later arrested for the murder of Daniel Pearl.
The Indian government believes links between Islamabad and these terrorist groups remain intact and prime minister Manmohan Singh has accused elements within Pakistan's security apparatus of aiding the Lashkar-e-Taiba's commando attack on Mumbai last November.

Developing Nations Rebuff G-8 on Curbing Pollutants

L’AQUILA, Italy — The world’s major industrial nations and newly emerging powers failed to agree Wednesday on specific cuts in heat-trapping gases by 2050, undercutting an effort to build a global consensus to fight climate change, according to people following the talks.

As President Obama arrived for three days of meetings, negotiators for the world’s 17 leading polluters dropped a proposal to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by mid-century, and emissions from the most advanced economies by 80 percent. But both the G-8 and the developing countries agreed to set a goal of stopping world temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

The discussion of climate change was among the top priorities of world leaders as they gathered here for the annual summit meeting of the Group of 8 powers. Mr. Obama invited counterparts from China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and others to join the G-8 here on Thursday for a parallel “Major Economies Forum” representing the producers of 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. But since President Hu Jintao of China abruptly left Italy to deal with unrest at home, the chances of making further progress seemed to evaporate.

The G-8 leaders were also grappling with the sagging global economy, development in Africa, turmoil in Iran, nuclear nonproliferation and other challenging issues. On Friday, Mr. Obama planned to unveil a $15 billion food security initiative by the G-8 to provide emergency and development aid to poor nations.

The failure to establish specific targets on climate change underscored the difficulty in bridging longstanding divisions between the most developed countries like the United States and developing nations like China and India. In the end, people close to the talks said, the emerging powers refused to agree to the specific emissions limits because they wanted industrial countries to commit to midterm goals in 2020, and to follow through on promises of financial and technological help.

“They’re saying, ‘We just don’t trust you guys,’ ” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group based in the United States. “It’s the same gridlock we had last year when Bush was president.”

American officials said they still had made an important breakthrough because the G-8 countries within the negotiations agreed to adopt the 2050 reduction goals, even though the developing countries would not.

And they said a final agreement with developing countries, including China and India, to be sealed on Thursday would include important conceptual commitments by the emerging powers to begin reducing emissions and to set a target date. Now negotiators will have to try to quantifying those commitments in coming months.

While the nations mapped out a general agreement to limit global temperature change, there remained differences between the level of commitment from developed and developing nations. The G-8 draft statement would have the major industrial powers “recognize that global emissions should peak by 2020 and then be substantially reduced to limit the average increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.” The statement by the developing countries would be less definitive, however, saying that scientific consensus supports such a goal.

Mr. Meyer said temperatures have already risen by 0.8 degrees and will likely rise by another 0.6 degrees just based on pollution already in the air, meaning that embracing the 2-degree goal would require major steps starting almost immediately.

While briefing reporters on Wednesday morning, Michael Froman, Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser and chief G-8 negotiator, declined to specify what would be in the two agreements, but said they would signal important progress heading toward a United Nations conference in Copenhagen in December to craft a worldwide climate change treaty.

“Our view is that it represents a significant step forward in terms of adding political momentum on the key issues to be dealt with in the U.N. process,” Mr. Froman said, “but that there is still a lot of work to be done and these are difficult issues and the negotiators will be meeting going forward to try and resolve them.”

European leaders and environmental activists have placed great hope that Mr. Obama would become a powerful new leader in the struggle against climate change after succeeding President George W. Bush, who long resisted more aggressive measures sought on this side of the Atlantic for fear of the economic impact. At a previous Group of 8 meeting, Mr. Bush agreed to a 50 percent cut in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 but not to an 80 percent reduction in those produced by industrial countries like the United States. With Mr. Obama’s support, the House recently passed legislation intended to curb emissions, although not by nearly as much as the Europeans want. And China is another challenge.

“Europe wants avant-garde legislation but China is putting up resistance, which I sampled yesterday during my one-on-one with the Chinese president,” Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, the G-8 host, told reporters Tuesday evening.

China, India and the other developing nations are upset that commitments to provide financial and technological help made during a United Nations conference in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007 have not translated into anything more tangible in the interim.

Mr. Meyer estimated that the United States, Europe and other industrial nations need to come up with $150 billion a year in assistance by 2020 to help develop clean-energy technology for developing countries, reduce deforestation that contributes to rising temperatures and help vulnerable nations adapt to changes attributed to greenhouse gases.

G8 divided over Iran, but firm on North Korea

L'AQUILA :G8 leaders meeting in this Italian town will strongly condemn North Korea's missile tests, though they will likely not agree a tougher stance on Iran, senior officials said on Wednesday.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, speaking on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, said there was no consensus on an accord on condemning Tehran's crackdown on post-election protests.

He indicated it would almost certainly not back US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call for stronger sanctions against the Islamic republic.

"On Iran, we will find the right wording," said by Frattini, indicating differences between the leaders after they met for a working lunch.

"The important thing is that the international community does not tolerate violence and the violation of human rights," he said.

But pressed by reporters who asked if the G8 would go further than condemning Iran's crackdown, he said: "For the moment, the conditions aren't there."

Signs of division over Iran were evident at last month's preparatory foreign ministers meeting in Trieste, north-eastern Italy, when "they eventually agreed to deplore but not to condemn the bloody crackdown, amid opposition from Russia."

They called on Iran to resolve its political crisis quickly with "democratic dialogue and peaceful means."

A spokesman for Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso said that the G8 leader's final declaration would closely follow the wording agreed in Trieste, although it might be updated to take into account more recent events.

Kazuo Kodama said Iran would be warned that "time is not unlimited" for it to respond to criticism of its nuclear programme.

Divergences appeared in Trieste when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that isolating Iran was the "wrong approach" and could derail efforts to win cooperation from Tehran on its nuclear programme.

Again at the L'Aquila summit, a threat of sanctions against Tehran appears unlikely because of Moscow's objections, according to a senior European diplomat.

"We won't go further in L'Aquila because Russia opposes interference in countries internal affairs," he said on condition of anonymity.

Relations between Iran and the West, already strained over the nuclear issue, have been further damaged by Tehran's arrest of a French citizen and several Iranian employees of the British embassy.

London and Paris have both furiously insisted that the detainees are innocent, and fellow European Union member governments have also made diplomatic protests over the incident.

Tehran has remained defiant, however, and supreme leader Ali Khamenei declared: "The Iranian nation warns the leaders of those countries trying to take advantage of the situation, beware! The Iranian nation will react."

"We would ask the world to join us in imposing even stricter sanctions on Iran to try to change the behavior of the regime," Clinton said in a TV interview broadcast in Venezuela.

"President Obama is trying to create a normal relationship with Iran and we are waiting for a response from the Iranians," on his proposal for dialogue, said by US National Security Advisor James Jones.

The Frenchwoman, a university researcher, was picked up earlier this month as she was preparing to leave the country, and has been accused of spying. One of the embassy employees is also still in custody and facing trial.

According to European diplomats, leaders are considering protesting by temporarily recalling their ambassadors from Tehran and reducing the number of visas they issue to Iranian travellers.

Asfandyar cautions against spread of terrorism tsunami

PESHAWAR: President of Awami National Party Asfandyar Wali Khan said on Wednesday that Pukhtoons were not only fighting war of their survival but of the country and if they were not supported at this critical juncture by the political forces of the country, then it would be very difficult to contain this war in this part of the country.
“If people of the country and the political forces do not support the Pukhtoons at this critical moment then river Sindh has no such power to stop the spread of terrorism across Attock bridge”, he said this while addressing a function arranged on the eve of joining of ANP by District Charsadda Nazim Sajid Khan here at Frontier House.
The ANP leader said as all the Egyptians could not be described as terrorists because of Aimen Al Zawahiri, as such due to Fazlullah or Muslim Khan all the Pukhtoons could not be labelled terrorists. Therefore connotation of Taliban should not be used in context of terrorism.
They are not Taliban but terrorists and saboteurs, he added. He said Nizam-e-Adl has been implemented in Malakand Division on the popular demand of the people and not for Fazlullah, Muslim Khan or Sufi Muhammad. It would not be withdrawn, he added. “The terrorists have threatened us and now action against them would be taken to logical end.”
About the creation of new provinces, he said, “Seraiki belt should be declared a separate province and we fully support it. Similarly the provinces should be given financial autonomy which is necessary for the survival of the country.”
He said he had mentioned four years ago that the fire sparked in Fata may spread to the whole country and it’s time to wake up and unite to extinguish this fire. The MMA government, he recalled could not release Maulana Sufi Muhammad while our government took him out of jail because we wanted peace on our soil.
He said “after signing peace deal and implementation of Nizam-e-Adl, there was no need to invade Buner district by the Taliban and by doing so they proved they had agenda other than Nifaz-e-Shariat.
That is why today neither mosques nor, janazagahs, imambargahs are safe from terrorism. These elements have tried to push us to the wall therefore, now we will not leave them.”
He denied outright the impression that he was planning to quit politics and said he would continue the job till the achievements of desired objectives for the Pukhtoons.

UN aid chief urges security before IDPs return

MARDAN: The 1.9 million Pakistanis uprooted by anti-Taliban offensives must be not be pushed into returning home before their safety and security is assured, the UN humanitarian chief said Wednesday.

John Holmes, United Nations emergency relief coordinator, said during a four-day visit to Pakistan that the displaced were at a ‘critical turning point,’ as the military says swathes of the northwest are safe for return.

‘(We are) trying to make sure people are not pushed to go home too quickly,’ said Holmes, as he visited displaced people in the northwest town of Mardan.

‘Of course we have no wish for people to stay in camps or in host communities longer than necessary because it puts such a huge strain on everyone and on infrastructure. These are the balances we’re trying to strike.’

Security forces launched an offensive on Taliban fighters in late April in three northwest districts after the rebels thrust south towards Islamabad, sparking a huge exodus as people rushed to escape ground and air assaults.

Now officials say the districts are almost cleared of Taliban rebels, although the military have reported outbreaks of fresh fighting in Swat valley.

‘We are at a critical turning point when people may start to go home and may not,’ Holmes told reporters.

‘If they start to go home, it’s one situation. That becomes very difficult for most people and we have some very big problems to address in the future.

‘The conditions need to be right — that is the security needs to be right, the basic services need to be there,’ he added.

Electricity and water supplies were cut off in the main urban hubs during the fighting, while hospitals closed their doors.

Most of the 1.9 million displaced — which includes about 500,000 who fled an offensive last year in a separate northwest region — are packed into relatives’ homes, while others are crammed into hot and dusty refugee camps.

UN officials said that about 3,700 schools in the North West Frontier Province were currently occupied by people seeking shelter from fighting — a concern with the new school term beginning on September 1.

Aid officials also say they will struggle to provide for people going back as donors have only come forward with about one third of the 543 million dollars requested to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

‘Somehow this IDP (internally displaced persons) issue has been relatively neglected,’ said Holmes, who arrived on Tuesday on his first official visit to Pakistan, and will stay until Saturday.

US missile attack kills 9 militants in S Waziristan

WANA: Nine militants have been killed and five injured in US drone attack in South Waizirstan on Wednesday.According to reports, US drones fired two missile at suspected hideouts of militants in Karwan Manza area killing eight and injuring five people. The causalities could be mount.

Suicide blast in Peshawar, several injured

PESHAWAR :A bomb went off in Peshawar on Wednesday, but there was no immediate word on casualties, police said."It was a suicide bomb blast on the main road. There are many fears to be injured, information is coming in," said senior police official Qazi Jameel.

Obama Resets Ties to Russia, but Work Remains

MOSCOW — President Obama kicked off a new chapter in Russian-American relations with significant progress on several fronts during a two-day visit to the nation that began Monday. About a year after the relationship ruptured over the war in Georgia, the two sides are now back at the table and doing business.

But while Mr. Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia declared a reconciliation, they did so partly by agreeing to disagree on important issues and by selectively interpreting the same words in sharply different ways. Moreover, they made promises of cooperation that ultimately might prove easier to translate into words than reality.

A case in point: Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev announced an agreement to open a joint early-warning center to share data on missile launchings. But Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris N. Yeltsin announced the same agreement in 1998. Mr. Clinton then announced it again with President Vladimir V. Putin in 2000. Mr. Putin and President George W. Bush recommitted to it as recently as 2007.

And none of them ever actually built the center.

Similarly, Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev this week renewed their nations’ mutual commitment to getting rid of 34 tons each of weapons-grade plutonium, another initiative started in the 1990s and never completed.

White House aides agreed that the hard part was ahead, but they argued that the progress eclipsed that of any Russian-American summit meeting in decades. Among other things, the two leaders agreed to slash strategic nuclear arsenals, resume military contacts suspended after the war with Georgia and open an air corridor across Russia for up to 4,500 flights of United States troops and weapons to Afghanistan each year.

“They’re real things. It is not fluff,” said Michael McFaul, the president’s Russia adviser. “I dare you to think of a summit that was so substantive.”

“We didn’t solve everything in two days,” he added. “That would be impossible. But I think we came a long way in terms of developing both a relationship that advances our national interest with the government and also laying out a philosophy about foreign policy.”

Analysts were more cautious, saying that Mr. Obama had opened the way to progress while still confronting profound differences on issues like Iran, missile defense and Georgia. “Obama has achieved about as much as he could, given the short amount of time in power, the enduring conflicts in interests and deep distrust in the relationship,” said Andrew C. Kuchins, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mark Medish, a Clinton adviser now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said America’s best hope was to tamp down trouble from Russia. “I think President Obama understands the reset is mainly a way to avoid unnecessary or accidental confrontation,” he said, referring to the so-called reset in American-Russian relations. “In a sense, it’s like a mini-détente after a mini-cold war.”

How far Mr. Obama’s initiative goes may depend on the relationship forged with Mr. Medvedev during long hours of talks and multiple meals. The two seemed to develop an easy familiarity by the end of the visit.

“Those two presidents are a different generation,” said Pavel Palazhchenko, a longtime interpreter for Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the former Soviet president who met with Mr. Obama on Tuesday. “Many of the dogs in the old fights are really not their dogs. And they will be willing to take a fresh look at some issues.”

By contrast, Mr. Obama had a more intense encounter with Mr. Putin, now the prime minister but still considered Russia’s paramount leader. Their breakfast ran two hours, and Mr. Putin spent the first half in a virtually uninterrupted monologue about Russia’s view of the world, aides said afterward.

In public, the two praised each other and made no mention of Mr. Obama’s assessment last week that Mr. Putin still had “one foot in the old ways” of the cold war. “With you,” Mr. Putin told Mr. Obama, “we link all our hopes for the furtherance of relations between our two countries.” Mr. Obama talked of “the extraordinary work that you’ve done on behalf of the Russian people.”

But in a later interview with Fox News, Mr. Obama said that “some of his continued grievances with respect to the West are still dated in some of the suspicions that came out of that period.” Mr. Obama added: “I found him to be tough, smart, shrewd, very unsentimental, very pragmatic. And on areas where we disagree, like Georgia, I don’t anticipate a meeting of the minds anytime soon.”

Mr. Obama used his second day here to demonstrate continuing American support for greater freedom in Russia.

He met with opposition leaders, attended a conference on civil society and sent a delegation to a memorial service for Paul Klebnikov, an American journalist gunned down in Moscow five years ago. “After five long years, we urge the Russian authorities to redouble their efforts to bring to justice those responsible,” said William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs.

The president attended a meeting with business leaders to stress better economic ties and press for more consistent rules for investors. Viktor F. Vekselberg, an oil and metals magnate, said Mr. Obama’s presence “should be a strong, positive signal to all business to re-examine the potential in both countries.”

At the civil society conference, Mr. Obama stressed support for freedom of expression and assembly, the rule of law, and consistent application of justice. But his comments throughout the day were calculated to recognize Russian resentment of American scolding.

“I come before you with some humility,” he said. “I think in the past there’s been a tendency for the United States to lecture rather than to listen. And we obviously still have much work to do with our own democracy in the United States. But nevertheless, I think we share some common values and interest in building a strong, democratic culture in Russia as well as the United States.”

The White House modeled an address by Mr. Obama at the New Economic School in Moscow on President Ronald Reagan’s famous “Ivan and Anya” speech in 1984, which cited fictional Russians to make the point that Washington and Moscow could openly discuss differences while still working together.

Thomas O. Melia, deputy executive director of Freedom House, an American advocacy group, hailed Mr. Obama for offering a more expansive articulation of democratic values and attending the civil society conference even though Mr. Medvedev refused to go.

“It underscores how wide is the values gap between the American and Russian governments,” Mr. Melia said, “which is a reminder of why it will be difficult to improve the relationship in some key ways.”