Navy to launch virtual office for Russia

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U.S. Navy researchers will have a new way to talk to their Russian counterparts.

At the request of State Department officials stationed in Russia, the Office of Naval Research next month will launch a virtual office where technological experts from both countries can communicate with one another.

"We work closely with the State Department, and there's a strong feeling that [science and technology] is apolitical," Navy Rear Adm. Jay Cohen, chief of naval research, told Federal Computer Week today during the Naval-Industry R&D Partnership conference in Washington, D.C. "This is one more tool in the toolbox for interaction with different peoples in different countries."

Cohen said his organization already has physical offices in Europe, South America and Asia that are increasing international collaboration on everything from unclassified defense topics to health matters.

"With the technological expertise in the former Soviet Union...and the resurgent Russia today, it makes sense to open up those lines of communication," he said. "The reason the office is virtual is because as the initial step, it will be [worked] by a liaison out of our London office."

Naval officials will also visit Russia, assuming that nation's government approves the trip. A more permanent outpost may be established in the future, Cohen said.

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