By DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration wants Congress to remove Soviet-era trade restrictions that have been a sore point in U.S.-Russia relations for decades. But the conditions lawmakers are demanding to make the change may only worsen America's increasingly shaky relations with Moscow.
Republicans and Democrats are trying to tie the easing of the so-called Jackson-Vanik restrictions to a measure imposing sanctions against Russian officials linked to human rights abuses. That would infuriate Russia and be the latest hitch in what administration officials consider a major foreign policy success: improved relations with Russia after a sharp downturn during the Bush administration. They call it the "reset."
Obama administration officials are trying to keep the rights and trade measures apart. They are concerned about retaliation and do not want to aggravate relations further.
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