The Straits Times
Published on Nov 17, 2012

US House passes bill normalising Russian trade, angers Moscow


WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to end Soviet-era trade restrictions while approving a provision that punishes Russian officials for human rights violations.

Moscow reacted angrily to the provision that threatens to increase tensions between the two countries at a time when they are at odds over missile defence, Syria's civil war and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"A defiantly unfriendly and provocative attack," the Russian Foreign Ministry branded it and promised "a tough response." The Obama administration supports the legislation, which now goes to the Senate, where the Democratic leadership has indicated it will consider the measure promptly. The House passed it Friday by a 365-43 vote.

The vote to establish permanent normal trade relations was a priority for American businesses and farmers concerned that they were being left behind as Europe and China move into Russia's market of 140 million consumers.