President Vladimir Putin: Esteemed gentlemen. I am glad to welcome you to the Moscow Kremlin.
Today with this first credentials presentation ceremony in the new, 2003, year a new stage also opens in your diplomatic career.
I hope that this coincidence will become a good omen of success for your responsible and honourable mission in Russia.
The past year, full of international events, was for all members of the world community not simple and somewhat contradictory. On the one hand, its results instil hope for the consolidation of the positive trends in such important areas as European and international security, and the development of extensive trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation by states, including within existing international institutions.
At the same time many serious problems of world importance remain unresolved and are even becoming more exacerbated. The last few weeks and days, unfortunately, give us causes for concern: the tensions around Iraq continue unabated, the situation is complicated in the Middle East, and uncertainty lingers on as to the prospects for resolving the so-called North Korean nuclear problem.
At the same time these and many other problems not only arouse concern, but also serve as a stimulus for the step-up of international efforts toward the search for politico-diplomatic ways to solve the pressing issues of the world agenda.
And on how successfully this is done the realization will depend of our common strategic aim of forming an equitable, democratic world order, based on the generally adopted principles and rules of international law. First and foremost — on the observance of the Charter of the United Nations and on relations of equality and partnership among all states of the world.
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Esteemed gentlemen. Russian relations with the states which you represent are based on trust and constructive partnership.
We cherish the traditions of friendship with Colombia, and intend to strengthen relations in various fields. As part of the joint efforts of the world community we are ready to assist in achieving Colombian national reconciliation.
We attach great importance to the development of relations with Singapore, an important financial, commercial and transport centre of Southeast Asia. We think it necessary to use more effectively the accumulated experience of cooperation, as well as to look for new mutually beneficial forms of bilateral relations.
We note the positive dynamics in cooperation with New Zealand, which plays an ever more noticeable role in the political and economic life of the Asia-Pacific region.
Long years of friendship bind Russia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic. And we intend to expand further our relations, opening new growth areas of joint work.
An important partner of Russia in Southeast Asia is the Kingdom of Thailand. I believe it to be in the interest of the two countries to make qualitative and full use of the many-year experience of comprehensive cooperation; more specifically, at this stage — by increasing the number of concrete projects.
This year Bangkok is getting ready to host a major APEC leaders forum. I do not doubt that it will be held on a high level, and that its results will constitute a weighty contribution to the formation of a qualitatively new level of the many-faceted partnership in the Asia-Pacific region.
Russia favours the development of the political dialogue with the Vatican. We are convinced that our bilateral ties will help to solve the complex problems of the present-day world architecture. On many questions, including on such an important and acute problem as terrorism, our positions practically coincide.
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In conclusion, I want to wish you, esteemed gentlemen, fruitful and substantial work. The dynamics in evolution of our bilateral relations and their success and prospects will largely depend on its quality.
Russian organizations and agencies will render your professional activity all the necessary assistance.
I am convinced that only by pooling efforts and acting efficiently and in a coordinated manner shall we be able to counter the threats of the 21st century.
I wish you successful work in Moscow, and thank you for your attention.