Vladimir Putin: I confirm with pleasure all that was said by the Federal Chancellor. But first of all I want to stress that relations between the Russian Federation and the Federal Republic of Germany are developing in an absolutely positive spirit.
As you know, today Mr. President Johannes Rau and I commenced the Year of Russian Culture in Germany, and the next year is planned in Russia as the Year of German Culture in the Russian Federation. I want to thank the German side for the big gift — the financing, toward St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary, of the restoration of the organ in the philharmonic. I hope that Mr. Federal Chancellor and I will also unveil the reconstructed Amber Chamber in a suburb of St. Petersburg.
Today's talks have borne out the similarity of our positions on key international issues. We favor the supremacy of international law in dealing with international crises. This is a good basis for the further cooperation of our countries in international affairs.
Of course, we devoted much attention to the situation around Iraq, as Mr. Federal Chancellor already said. We are confident that efforts should perseveringly be continued for a peaceful resolution of the situation. We are convinced that unilateral military action can only bring suffering to millions of people and an escalation of tension in the region as a whole.
We also touched upon the latest discussion of this question in the United Nations. I must say that Russian experts are intensively studying the materials presented by our American partners. We are convinced that the international inspectors should carefully verify the information received from the United States. Right now we see no grounds for the use of force. In any case only on the basis of expert findings by the inspectors should the UN Security Council take a decision on further action.
Now I shall permit myself to return to our bilateral collaboration. We discussed certain areas of our cooperation in the economic sphere. We fixed a schedule of our meetings with the Federal Chancellor this year. We counted up four personal meetings this year. We will be very glad to see Mr. Federal Chancellor at the jubilee celebrations of German concern Siemens in Russia, at the Petersburg Dialogue, at the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg and also this autumn at the annual intergovernmental consultations in Yekaterinburg.
Question: Do you assume support on the part of Russia for the German-French initiative with regard to Iraq?
Vladimir Putin: I think that all who have been following the developments around Iraq see that essentially the positions of the Russian Federation, France and Germany virtually concur. Our Foreign Ministries and our representatives in the United Nations Security Council work closely, and coordinate their actions. The People's Republic of China also holds the same position. As of now, by our estimates, a majority of the UN Security Council members share approximately the same approaches.
So we have no obstacles to further coordination. We are in touch, of course, with our American partners and do not consider it right to fan any anti-American sentiments over the events around Iraq. We agree that pressure has to be put on Iraq. The Federal Chancellor said about that just now. But we must see what else the international inspectors need to carry out their work effectively. And after receipt of their report — take a decision in the UN Security Council what to do next.
We will continue to coordinate our work with all the members of the Security Council, and with France and Germany, of course, as well.