Obama, Medvedev back adoption pact

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The US and Russian presidents Thursday agreed to work together on rules for adoption, after a US woman sparked outrage by putting her adopted seven-year-old son on a plane back to Russia alone.

Russia imposed a de-facto ban on the practice after the episode earlier this year, and both sides have been working on a legal framework governing the adoption of Russian orphans by prospective US parents.

"We are convinced that all children have the right to grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding," US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a statement.

"However, tragic incidents involving children adopted between our countries caused by the adoptive parents underscore the importance of ensuring reliable protections for the rights, safety, and well-being of adopted children.

"We have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to conclude a legally binding bilateral agreement on cooperation in the field of intercountry adoption," the statement, issued after White House talks said.

Experts from both nations have been working together in recent months to create a stronger legal basis for the adoptions, and the presidents said they would work together to implement such a pact "as soon as possible."

Russia demanded a bilateral accord to protect its children after the US nurse put the boy on a flight alone this year with a note saying she could no longer care for him.

Torry Hansen, 32, sparked outrage in Russia when she put Artyom Savelyev on a plane only seven months after adopting him, saying the boy was "violent" and had threatened to burn down the family home.

More than 1,770 orphans were adopted by American families in 2008 from Russia, where the number of orphans is some five times higher than in the United States, according to official statistics.

© 2010 AFP

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