President Putin: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Our talks with the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Schroeder, have just concluded. This was an unscheduled meeting. And as you understand, its necessity had been dictated by the dynamics of the external situation. Of course, we paid the main attention to the situation around Iraq. Our position remains unchanged: It is necessary to continue the search of ways for a peaceful resolution of the crisis and seek to ensure that Iraq fulfills all its obligations to the United Nations. In so doing it is important to use all the politico-diplomatic methods at the disposal of the world community.
We feel the potential of Resolution 1441 is far from exhausted. Geared to its full realization are the Franco-German and Russian proposals, circulated in New York on February 24, this year. Their basic meaning is: continue the active work of the inspectors, and impart to inspections a more systemic character. We believe the international inspectors should clearly formulate their demands to Iraq and on their basis continue the work. These approaches are shared not only by Russia and Germany, but also by France and China.
I want to note that as of now — by a majority of the members of the UN Security Council. Of course, in the prevailing situation much will depend on the responsible position of Iraq itself. Therefore we intend to continue to work with the Iraqi leadership, trying to persuade it to work further with the United Nations. Of course, in the course of the talks we touched upon the questions of Russian-German relations. All spheres of contacts were discussed. In these areas there are some positive dynamics and it is very important to consolidate them. And that's the aim of our present-day and previous and subsequent meetings. Thank you.
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Question: Please say have you agreed the position on a resolution?
President Putin: We, of course, spoke about this resolution. The position of Russia is well known: we regard as unacceptable the adoption of a resolution which would give the right to automatically start a war in the world. We are ready to discuss with our colleagues and search for acceptable ways of resolving the conflict. You know the text of the declaration with which France, Germany and Russia have come up. China has backed this declaration. We are ready, I repeat, to work with our colleagues and hope that we will meet with the same understanding on their part. If we find an acceptable solution and move in the direction of unifying our positions — we will be glad. Talks are also a rapprochement of positions, we are ready to talk. But we aren't ready to war and consider that this is a bad decision.
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Question: Please say, after all the consultations do you have at least 50-percent confidence that it will be possible to preserve peace? How in this connection will the questions of broadening energy cooperation be dealt with?
President Putin: I, for my part, share the approaches of the Federal Chancellor completely. We also do not lose the hope — when I am saying we, I mean Russia — do not lose the hope for a peaceful solution of the problem. I must say the limit to optimism exists. For, even those who consider that it is necessary to act by tougher methods, nevertheless, publicly also speak for the preference of peaceful ways of solving the question. I, for example, never heard from the US President that he wanted to wage a war. He also wants to solve the problem by peaceful means. I think the pressure which the American side is exerting also has a definite foundation beneath it, and makes the Iraqi side more pliant in solving many questions of cooperation with the inspectors. It is only important not to cross a certain line, beyond which there is no peaceful solution. And tomorrow we intend to discuss this by telephone with the President of the United States.
With regard to energy questions, the unstable situation in the Middle East and in this case around Iraq, of course, affects adversely the world economy, the European economy. It has an impact on us as well. In this context, of course, the capabilities of Russia, energy capabilities can be used to stabilize the European economy. The Chancellor and I have continually been discussing these questions. Not only Germany, the whole of Europe, I am sure, is interested in this, and it is not only in the stage of discussion, but also in the stage of practical solution of some of these questions. You know of our statement between Russia, Ukraine and Germany with regard to the creation of a gas consortium together with Ukraine. This work is continuing; now we are discussing another big project: to construct a northern gas pipeline across the bed of the Baltic Sea with an outlet to Germany.