Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has emphasized the importance of enhancing US-Russian trade relations. Burns said in a finance panel on Thursday that extending the permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) "is not a magic formula but it's a long-term investment that is part of what the Russian middle class wants to see and it will help them be a better partner for the United States over time." He also underlined the significance of Russia's joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) as it would help enhance the Russian economy. "It's important to bear in mind that this is not just about the Russian government but the evolution of Russian society," Burns said. At the same time, he made clear that the US has no "allusions about challenges that lie ahead in an uneasy mix of competition and cooperation," with Russia.