Vladimir Putin: Mr Kuchma, I am very pleased to welcome you to Moscow. Thank you for stopping over before the start of a long tour. I am glad to have the chance to exchange opinions about how our previous agreements are being implemented. For my part I would like to start by saying that everything we agreed upon at our previous meeting is making good headway. Experts are working in a positive way to remove the unjustified barriers in trade and we see positive shifts in that area. Our Economics Ministers are in constant contact. As a follow-up to that work we will soon send our Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Mr Gref, to Kiev. He will continue consultations with our Ukrainian counterparts.
In the economic sphere I would also note our joint work on energy matters and I would like to say that there too we are aware of the political impulses coming from your side. There is progress, good progress. I hope that today we will be able to discuss these and other aspects of our cooperation.
Leonid Kuchma: I think we have something to report regarding Russian-Ukrainian relations. The main thing is that there is progress.
Today we will discuss multi-lateral relations, the situation in Europe and on the continent, in Russia, and we will discuss the fight against terrorism.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to thank you for your reaction and sympathy for Muscovites and all the Russian people in connection with the casualties in Moscow as a result of the terrorist attack. We spoke with you over the phone several times during those days. Few people know that Leonid Kuchma was ready to come to Moscow to help to deal with the crisis. I would like to sincerely thank you for that and to stress again that it is important for us to strengthen the international coalition in the fight against terrorism and not to permit any double standards to be used. I am very worried because here and there attempts are being made to convince the public that there are certain things that can justify terrorism.
Leonid Kuchma: Terrorism in Russia is different from…
Vladimir Putin: In general, what can justify terror? It is absolutely inadmissible and not only because it may cause the anti-terrorist coalition to fall apart, but more importantly, it may and will help the very people who are seeking to achieve their gruesome goals with the help of terrorist methods. That is absolutely inadmissible, extremely harmful and very dangerous.
Leonid Kuchma: Unfortunately, some political forces have attempted to promote that position. It was met with no support and in fact was condemned by all the political forces. It may seem to be an internal family affair, but still I can say it today. It was a fluke that my daughter did not find herself in that terrible situation. She was in Moscow and she meant to attend the event.
Vladimir Putin: I didn’t know she was in Moscow.
Leonid Kuchma: Well, there you are.