Cablegate: Secretary of Transportation Talks Trains, Planes,

DE RUEHMO #2958/01 3421404
P 081404Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

MOSCOW 00002958 001.2 OF 003

1. (U) November 18-20, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood
led the USG delegation to the First Global Ministerial
Conference on Road Safety. Officials from the Department of
Transportation's (DOT) National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), Department of State, and the Millennium
Challenge Corporation (MCC) made up the USG delegation. In
addition to the Ministerial, Secretary LaHood also attended
the 200th Anniversary Celebrations of the Ministry of
Transportation of the Russian Federation. Between the two
events, the Secretary also met with President Dmitri
Medvedev, Minister of Transportation Igor Levitin, President
of Russian Railways (RZD) Vladimir Yakunin, U.S. business
representatives, and students from two of Russia's
transportation universities. Site visits included Russia's
high-speed train and General Electric's (GE) new Technology
Center. The visit also provided the Secretary with many
press opportunities in which to emphasize his message on road
safety and to speak of new areas in which the U.S.-Russia
bilateral relationship can grow. By discussing topics not
usually on the bilateral agenda, such as transportation and
road safety, Secretary LaHood's visit marked an important
step in the continuation and expansion of the new re-set
process in U.S.-Russia relations.

2. (U) On November 18-20, Secretary of Transportation Ray
LaHood led a delegation of 12 USG officials to Moscow to
attend the First Global Ministerial on Road Safety
(Ministerial), organized by the Russian Ministry of Interior
and co-chaired by the World Health Organization. The USG
delegation included high-level DOT and NHTSA representatives,
the Deputy Director of CDC, and MCC and State Department
representatives. Secretary LaHood spoke at the Ministerial
on November 19, presenting USG efforts to reduce distracted
driving. The Ministerial was attended by health and
transportation officials from approximately 150 countries,
with most represented at the Minister level.

Meeting with the Minister of Transportation
3. (SBU) On November 18, Secretary LaHood, accompanied by
Ambassador Beyrle, had a bilateral meeting with Russian
Minister of Transportation Igor Levitin. During the meeting
Secretary LaHood stressed his desire to improve U.S.
cooperation with Russia on transportation issues, especially
road safety. He proposed the creation of a working group of
U.S. and Russian experts which could discuss further
cooperation on a range of transportation issues ) including
toll roads, ports, railroads and civil aviation. Ambassador
Beyrle offered that this working group would fit in well with
the Presidents' Bilateral Commission and suggested that
transportation become a sub-working group under the Business
Development and Economic Relations Working Group. Minister
Levitin agreed and, noting that previous U.S.-Russian
cooperation on transportation had not been very active,
stated that he will organize a visit to the U.S. and give the
green light to his ministry's officials to increase
cooperation with their U.S. counterparts. Secretary LaHood
welcomed this decision and agreed to send the Minister
additional information on the U.S. National Rail plan, the
U.S. toll road system, and additional information on road
safety. (Note: On November 20, Ministry of Transportation
staff approached the embassy to request starting discussions
of the work of the sub-group. End Note.)

4. (SBU) During the meeting Minister Levitin noted that
President Medvedev wants to attract foreign investment and
new technology to Russia and has made cooperation with
foreign partners a high priority. He then presented several
new projects his ministry is pursuing that could benefit from
foreign investment. He noted the development of high-speed
rail, and the initial steps taken in working with the German
company Siemens on the Moscow-St. Petersburg line. The
Minister stressed that Russia will need significant
investment in developing its high-speed rail system and
looked forward to greater engagement with the U.S. in this
sector. Secretary LaHood responded that President Obama has
introduced a bill to fund USD 8 billion in transportation
infrastructure in the U.S., including to jump-start
high-speed rail. Minister Levitin also mentioned the need
for modernizing locomotive engines on conventional trains,
adding that the GOR has been cooperating with General
Electric (which is assembling engines in Kazakhstan.)
Minister Levitin then noted that the GOR would soon put out

MOSCOW 00002958 002.2 OF 003

tenders for the next stages of Sheremetyevo Airport
renovation (for expansion from 15 to 35 million passengers by
2015) and invited U.S. companies to participate.

5. (SBU) Switching to aviation, the Minister noted the
excellent relations his ministry has with Boeing. He cited
Boeing as a prime example of the type of foreign investment
and technology transfer Russia seeks. Minister Levitin
mentioned the polar air routes that enable commercial
carriers to fly passengers more quickly from North America to
Asia at significant cost savings. He added that Russia wants
to increase the capacity of these routes so that they can be
more intensively utilized by U.S. airlines. Minister Levitin
also explained Russia's current efforts to develop the port
of Murmansk to facilitate cargo transport from North America.
Secretary LaHood noted that better use of ports ) and
"marine highways" ) would help alleviate road congestion.

6. (SBU) Speaking frankly about road infrastructure, Minister
Levitin acknowledged that Russia has "major problems."
Russia has 45 million cars, but its road system is not well
developed. The Minister stated that the GOR will begin to
construct toll roads next year for the first time ever and
wanted to benefit from the U.S. experience in this area. He
planned to send officials from this ministry to meet with
U.S. experts next year.

7. (U) After the meeting, Minister Levitin invited Secretary
LaHood to watch the end of a concert/award ceremony for the
students of all of Russia's various transportation
universities. At the Minster's invitation, Secretary LaHood
took the stage, presented one of the awards and delivered
short, impromptu remarks about the importance of students in
the future of transportation.

Trains, Planes and Students
8. (SBU) On November 19, Secretary LaHood visited Russia's
new high-speed Sapsan train, driven down especially for the
Secretary's visit, which will start regular service between
Moscow and St. Petersburg in later this month. President of
RZD Yakunin gave the Secretary a tour of the German-built
train, parked on one of the platforms of the Rizhsky train
station, and presented the future of high-speed rail
passenger service in Russia. While touring an exhibition on
the high-speed train and riding a train simulator, Yakunin
and the Secretary conducted discussions on the future of
high-speed rail in both of their countries.

9. (SBU) Then Secretary LaHood visited General Electric's
(GE) newly opened Energy and Transportation Engineering
Center in Moscow, where aircraft and train engines are
designed and developed. Ron Pollett, President and CEO of GE
Russia, provided an overview of GE's wide range of activities
in Russia -- energy, healthcare, finance, aviation, media and
transportation. Highlighting GE's 90-year history in the
market, Pollett discussed Russia's strategic importance to
the company, focusing particularly on opportunities in the
railroad sector. Secretary LaHood then toured the design
center and spoke with engineers.

10. (U) On November 20, Secretary LaHood participated in a
roundtable with 40 students from the Moscow Power Engineering
Technical University and the Moscow State Automobile and Road
Technical University. The students' questions focused on
road safety, hybrid vehicles, the "Cash for Clunkers"
program, and other issues pertaining to transportation policy
in the United States. The Secretary used the roundtable as
an opportunity to highlight to the students the dangers of
distracted driving.

Meetings with Business
11. (SBU) On November 20, 2009, the American Chamber of
Commerce (AmCham) in Moscow hosted a breakfast in honor of
Secretary LaHood, with 30 members of the business community
participating. Companies taking part in the event included
United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Boeing, GE, Amsted Rail and
others. After Secretary LaHood delivered brief remarks on
infrastructure investment in the U.S. funded by the America
Recovery and Reinvestment Act, member companies, mainly in
the transportation sector, highlighted their achievements as
well as market challenges they face in Russia. The principal
message to Secretary LaHood was that while U.S. companies
have accomplished a great deal in this market, the business
environment is not an easy one in which to maneuver.
Business representatives added that the Russian Government
should be challenged to do more (in advance of WTO accession)

MOSCOW 00002958 003.2 OF 003

to make this a friendlier and more transparent market for
international investors.

12. (SBU) Secretary LaHood also held a private meeting with
Sergey Kravchenko, President of Boeing Russia. The two
discussed the role of Boeing's Moscow Design center in the
development of the 787 Dreamliner, as well as modifications
to the 747 and 777 lines. Kravchenko also raised Boeing's
submission of a bid to provide up to 50 737-800s to RosAvia,
a new government-owned airline, and highlighted USG advocacy
in support of the bid. He also told the Secretary of
Boeing's role in helping to develop Russia's aviation field
by opening a pilot training center in Moscow and helping to
develop and expand the polar aviation routes.

200th Anniversary Celebration and Meeting President Medvedev
--------------------------------------------- ---------------
13. (U) As the final event of the visit, Secretary LaHood
attended the opening ceremony of the 200th Anniversary
Celebration of the Ministry of Transportation, where he gave
congratulatory remarks. The ceremony was attended by the
Minister of Transportation, Deputy Prime Minister Sergey
Ivanov, and Head of the Presidential Administration Sergey
Naryshkin. At the end of the ceremony, Secretary LaHood,
along with the other 24 foreign transportation ministers, met
with President Medvedev at the Kremlin. During the meeting,
at which Secretary LaHood spoke, President Medvedev said that
efforts to improve road safety must include not only punitive
sanctions and fines but also improvements to the quality of
roads and modernizing of road infrastructure. He added that
"Russia has approved a national strategy to increase road
traffic safety, and a federal targeted program aimed at
reducing by 2012 the number of road accidents by 33% has been
working since 2006, but still the situation in this sphere
remains very hard."

14. (U) Secretary LaHood held press availabilities after the
meeting with Minister Levitin, the Ministerial conference,
the high-speed train visit, and the meetings with AmCham and
the university students. His visit was covered by local, TV,
radio and print media as well as international wire services
such as the Associated Press. His most extensive interview
was with Ekho Moskvy radio station, where for 30 minutes he
discussed the Ministerial, how road safety is promoted in the
United States, as well as U.S. programs to fund new roads,
develop rail transport, and promote the safety of public

15. (SBU) Secretary LaHood's visit marked an important step
in the continuation and expansion of the new re-set process
in U.S.-Russia relations. By discussing topics not usually
on the diplomatic bilateral agenda, such as transportation
and road safety, Secretary LaHood very effectively
demonstrated how the U.S. and Russia can cooperate in a wide
variety of areas to the mutual benefit of both our countries.
The visit also revealed potential opportunities for U.S.
companies to participate in Russia's infrastructure
development and Secretary LaHood used his meetings with
Russian officials to promote U.S. business' ability to do so.

16. (U) Department of Transportation cleared on this cable.

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