Vladimir Putin: We began preparations for this visit and these documents several months ago, practically a year. And when we started this work our positions on the key issues of interaction either diverged greatly or, let us be absolutely upfront about it, were diametrically opposite. During this period experts of the foreign and defense establishments and the administrations have managed to bridge the gaps between positions and to move constantly forward and eventually reach an accord. Both the American colleagues and our experts, aware of their mutual responsibility to the peoples of the two countries and the world and considering that we are the biggest nuclear powers, were willing to meet each other halfway. The fact that we have agreed on key issues and have signed these documents signifies great progress in my opinion.
You have referred to some bilateral issues that are still outstanding between us, including the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Of course , we are not terribly happy that it hasn’t happened, but we do not want to unduly dramatise things. After all, the main thing is that we have arrived at a common understanding of the key problems and have agreed on them. The key problem of course is security and disarmament. The Strategic Reductions Treaty does not just meet current realities in terms of its content, it also sends the correct signal regarding the areas of our cooperation. It is no secret that the members of the nuclear club are improving their potential in this field, but the threshold countries also seek to legalise their nuclear status. In my opinion and in the opinion of my American counterpart, it is one of the key problems of our time. The fact that we have given the correct signal is very important in terms of another key problem, the issue of non-proliferation.
So I hope that the US Congress, like our parliament, will eventually ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. As you know, Russia has not only signed the treaty, but has also ratified it. The US Congress has yet to ratify it. And we hope that it will not only repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment, but will ratify this key document. Anyway, President George W. Bush and I have done much to make movement in that direction possible. And on the whole I think we have reason and ample grounds to consider this visit a success.