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U.S. Delegation, Minister Miss Meeting Over Traffic

Kutcher answering questions. Alexander Zemlianichenko

The "Innovation Delegation," a group of U.S. officials and technology executives, was unable to make a planned meeting with Communications and Press Minister Igor Shchyogolev on Thursday because of scheduling problems and traffic in Moscow.

The group did, however, meet on Thursday with Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina, said David Siefkin, press attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. They also visited the White House and met members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

Delegation co-leader Jared Cohen, an adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wrote on his Twitter page that the group had a "great meeting" with Nabiullina, where they "discussed areas for collaboration on innovation."

Members of the delegation, which is aiming to raise awareness about social media, has been actively posting to the microblogging site on their experiences during the trip. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is among the technology executives in the delegation.

They were largely quiet, however, about the botched meeting with Shchyogolev, which was also supposed to include six Russian tech companies.

The American delegation changed its schedule because of traffic delays, Siefkin told The Moscow Times.

Howard Solomon, the Russia adviser to the National Security Council, did speak with Shchyogolev and arranged for the delegation to "meet next month by video conference with the Russian IT companies," Siefkin said.

Asked whether the six companies were invited to other sessions, he said the U.S. delegation was "certainly not excluding any companies."

A source at one of the companies told The Moscow Times that the ministry, which invited the companies, had not explained the reason for the cancellation.

Yelena Lashkina, a spokeswoman for the ministry, confirmed that the full meeting would take place next month.

The delegation was slated to fly on Thursday evening to Novosibirsk for meetings with the regional governor, entrepreneurs and nongovernmental organizations, the U.S. Embassy said.

The delegates will return to Moscow on Sunday morning for more meetings with Russian IT companies and a planned venture-capital forum Monday.

One highlight of Thursday's tour was an appearance by Ashton Kutcher, an American actor and Twitter enthusiast, at a press conference. Kutcher, who is campaigning against human trafficking in his role in the delegation, told reporters that trafficking can be fought using online tracking tools and social media.

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