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Press statements following the meeting
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: My colleague Barack Obama and I have once again had a constructive discussion of the various issues on the international agenda and on bilateral cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United States.
I said that although there are varying assessments of the reset in relations that has been much spoken about over these last three years, I think that we have accomplished very useful work over this time. These have perhaps been the best three years in relations between our two countries over the last decade. We achieved a lot, starting with the New START Treaty and ending with our cooperation on the most sensitive international issues.
I particularly want to thank the President of the United States for all of his effort and support in helping the Russian Federation to join the World Trade Organisation. This was very important for us. We hope to be able to soon resolve the remaining issues in this area, including that of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
We still have a lot to do to take our bilateral trade and economic relations to a genuinely new level in terms of trade volume and the intensiveness of our cooperation. The Russian Federation is very keen to make progress here. I think that American companies and America’s people would also stand to benefit from this, especially during this time of economic instability.
”These last three years have perhaps been the best three years in relations between our two countries over the last decade.“
We discussed, of course, international issues too, including the biggest problems on the agenda at the moment, such as Syria. I met yesterday with Mr Annan, the UN special envoy. Mr Obama and I agreed that this is a good means for achieving at least the departure point for ending the violence and opening the road to communication between the different forces in Syria today. We are ready to provide Mr Annan with all possible assistance, as I said yesterday.
We must act in such a way as not to add to the problems, try to ensure that the risk of civil war hanging over Syria at the moment does not become reality, and do all we can to help this mission open the way to full-fledged dialogue between the different groups in the country and the state authorities.
Naturally, we discussed the situation in the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear programme, and the North Korean nuclear programme, and other issues on the agenda. We also discussed our cooperation in Afghanistan. In short, we covered all of the main issues on the agenda today.
We discussed the missile defence issue too and said that there is still time to find a solution. Cooperation and discussion on all of the different areas related to the European missile defence project could be more active, and we agreed that the time is ripe for the technical experts to start working together. Both countries stick to their positions, we to ours, the United States to its position, however, dialogue on this issue is not only possible but necessary, and speaking frankly, we still have time to find a balanced solution, all the more so when you take into account the positive experience that Barack and I built up during the work on the New START Treaty. Indeed, I hope that we can put this experience to use now in finding a solution to this very complex missile defence issue.
I take this opportunity to say that my contacts with Barack Obama have always been a great pleasure, and the level of mutual understanding that we have reached over these years has helped us to resolve many important bilateral and international issues. I hope that relations between our countries and their leaders will continue in this spirit. I take this opportunity too, Barack, to once again invite you to visit Russia, although I know that this is not an easy year, an election year. I invited you to St Petersburg on my own behalf and on behalf of President-elect Vladimir Putin, and I repeat this invitation now.
”We still have a lot to do to take our trade and economic relations to a genuinely new level. Russia is very keen to make progress here. American companies and America’s people would also stand to benefit from this, especially during this time of economic instability.“
President of The United States of America Barack Obama: Thank you. Well, first of all, let me just say that the last three years of my work with President Medvedev has been extremely productive. And he listed some of the achievements that has resulted from this work – the New START Treaty reduces our nuclear stockpiles in ways that can help create greater peace and security not just for our countries but for the world, and is consistent with our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Russia's ascension into the WTO can open up trade and commerce between our two countries that can create jobs and economic growth for both Russians and Americans. And as Dmitry mentioned, we think it's going to be very important for us to address Jackson-Vanik so that American businesses can fully take advantage of an open and liberalized Russian market.
It is true that there have been times where we have had to manage tensions between our countries, and that's to be expected. Obviously, there are always tensions between countries, and that's certainly true given the long history of the Cold War between our two countries. But what I think we've been able to do is to ensure that rather than look backwards, we've been looking forwards.
Sorry, translator, I forgot you were there. (Laughter.) I got on a roll.
Moving forward, we've got more work to do between our two countries. Dmitry identified some areas of continued friction
– missile defense being an example. And what we've agreed to is to make sure that our teams, at a technical level, are in discussions about how some of these issues can be resolved.
The bilateral presidential commission that was chaired by Foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Clinton, will be working actively around a number of the trade and commercial issues, not only with respect to WTO but how we can more vigorously expand the kind of investment and the kind of cooperation on the economic front that can benefit both Russia and the United States.
On the international front, we agreed that, as two of the world’s leading powers, it’s absolutely critical that we communicate effectively and coordinate effectively in responding to a wide range of situations that threaten world peace and security.
”Cooperation and discussion on all of the different areas related to the European missile defence project could be more active. Dialogue on this issue is not only possible but necessary.“
So on Syria, although there had been some differences over the last several months, we both agree that we should be supportive of Kofi Annan’s efforts to try to end some of the bloodshed that’s taking place within Syria and move towards a mechanism that would allow for the Syrian people ultimately to have a representative and legitimate government that serves their interest.
On Iran, we agree that the P5-plus-1 talks with Iran that should be announced soon offer us an opportunity to resolve diplomatically the critical issue of ensuring that Iran is abiding by its international obligations, that will allow it to rejoin the community of nations, and have peaceful uses of nuclear energy while not developing nuclear weapons.
And with respect to North Korea, we are going to be both sending messages to North Korea that they should not go forward with this missile launch, which would violate existing U.N. Security Council resolutions. And our hope is, is that we can resolve these issues diplomatically.
So let me just say that at a time of great challenges around the world, cooperation between the United States and Russia is absolutely critical to world peace and stability. And I have to say that I could not have asked for a better partner in forging that strong relationship than Dmitry. I am confident that in his new role he is going to continue to have an outstanding influence in world affairs and help to continue to deepen and improve the relationship between our two countries.
I wish him all the best. And I would love to visit St. Petersburg. He is absolutely right that my next visit to Russia will undoubtedly be after my election. (Laughter.)
Good luck, my friend.