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Bering Strait: A Capitol Hill Briefing
Gail Paine, UPF-North America
Washington DC, United States
June 5, 2006

The landmark Bering Strait Peace Initiative was introduced on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 in the US Capitol Building in Washington D.C. This panel discussion represented an important initial step in the process of making this vision a substantial reality. The briefing was on the second day of a three-day conference entitled, "World Russian Forum 2006 - Russia-USA: Towards Economic, Political and Military Alliance" that brought together hundreds of Russian and American dignitaries. The Universal Peace Federation was one of numerous co-sponsors of this impressive cooperative of organizations designed to support and build alliances between America and Russia. The briefing on Capitol Hill was organized by UPF-North America, with Mr. Jim Flynn, Regional Secretary General, serving as emcee for the program.

Dr. Edward Lozansky
Dr. Edward Lozansky, a long-time friend of UPF, is the founder of the World Russian Forum and President of the American University in Moscow. Dr. Lozansky was instrumental in facilitating the historic meeting between Dr. Sun Myung Moon and President Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia in 1991 in the Kremlin. It is interesting to note that the purpose of the larger conference was to build bridges of relationships between the two countries, while the Bering Strait panel focused on Dr. Moon's proposal to literally build a bridge between the two nations! This whole conference experience again demonstrated the benefits of partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations to work toward common goals.

The first order of business at the May 17 session was the presentation of the World Russian Forum's prestigious award. Dr. Lozansky presented the 25th annual award to Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, for his outstanding contribution to U.S. - Russia cooperation. Ambassador Pickering, after receiving this important honor, outlined the current status of America-Russia relations and his recommendations for the future.

Ambassador Thomas Pickering
Following the Ambassador's enlightening remarks, Mr. Flynn began the panel discussion addressing "Economic Development in the Frontiers of Russia and USA: Promoting Co-Prosperity in Alaska and Eastern Siberia through the Bering Strait Crossing". The panel speakers were as follows:

Dr. Thomas Walsh, Secretary General of UPF International, framed the issue eloquently, making clear the noble intention of Dr. Moon's vision and clarifying near term projects for economic and infrastructure development.

Mr. Robert Corbisier, Special Assistant to Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski, reported the efforts that the State of Alaska is making to initiate the process of building a railway from Alaska, through Canada to the lower 48. This would provide an essential link for the viability of the Bridge/Tunnel Initiative.

Dr. Sergei Markov, an important advisor to the Russian government, is Director of the Institute for Political Studies in Moscow and Professor at Moscow State University and also Head of the National Civic Council of International Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Public Diplomacy. He gave remarks on the potential implications for resource development in Eastern Siberia.

The Bering Strait Peace King Bridge/Tunnel Video shown next, created by Voices of Peace TV, presented an inspiring introduction and background to this extensive project.

Dr. Joon Ho Seuk, Chairman of UPF-Eurasia, spoke in a steady and deliberate manner of the vision behind the project and inspired the many Russian participants with his command of the Russian language.

Mr. George Koumal of Tucson, AZ has spent a lifetime in the railroad industry. More importantly for the panel's discussion, he is the Head of the Interhemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel & Railroad Group, which has proposed and promoted a Bering Strait Tunnel for 2 decades. Mr. Koumal has extensive mining and tunneling experience covering four continents. His remarks were very insightful and came from much experience. He concluded with the moving plea that this project could create a better world for our children and our children's children.

Dr. Sergei Markov at the podium

Mr. George Koumal
Dr. Vyacheslav Nikonov is Dean of History and Political Science at International University in Moscow. A prolific writer, he is the author of 7 books and over 500 articles, which mostly deal with American and Russian politics. He is also President of the "Unity for Russia Foundation" and in 1992 was Professor of Political Science at the California Institute of Technology. He concluded the briefing with "5 pros and cons" to the project. His remarks were an interesting balance of idealism and realism, given with a sprinkling of humor.

The briefing room was packed with over 150 leaders, both Russian and American. It was felt by many that the stately setting of the nation's Capitol was an appropriate venue for such an awe-inspiring and far-reaching project.

Reposted from UPF-North America

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