Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
President Bush and I have just exchanged the instruments of ratification of the treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive weapons. The treaty has now come into force.
Once again we are demonstrating Russia’s and the United States’ commitment to an entirely new kind of partnership built on the principles of mutual security, cooperation, openness and predictability. This kind of cooperation also helps to strengthen strategic stability and international security. By committing ourselves to a three-fold cutback to our strategic nuclear arsenals our countries have shown that we intend to continue the nuclear disarmament process.
The strategic offensive arms reduction treaty also represents a significant contribution to reinforcing the nuclear non-proliferation regime. This is of particular importance today as we work together to fight international terrorism, for in pursuit of their criminal aims terrorists also seek to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.
Now we must work on implementing the treaty. For this purpose, a bilateral commission will be set up. Already existing mechanisms covering a broad agenda for Russian-U.S. cooperation on strategic arms, missile defence and non-proliferation will continue their work. Plans are already underway to step up this work and the relevant instructions have already been given in accordance with the joint statement we approved today on new strategic relations.
This meeting with President Bush was held at a very important time when many complicated events are taking place in the world. I think it extremely important that this summit has conclusively shown that there can be no alternative to Russian-U.S. cooperation as far as ensuring the national interests of our countries is concerned, and as regards strengthening international peace and security.
President Bush and I agreed to intensify our cooperation on building up strategic stability, fighting terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, working together on regulating regional conflicts and actively developing bilateral relations in all areas.
Of course, we are aware of the opinion that Russian-U.S. relations were being put to the test, and that some were asking themselves whether our relations would withstand that test. Today, President Bush and I have confirmed our firm commitment to a strategic policy of bilateral partnership based on mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests.
I must say that the foundation our relations are built upon has turned out more solid than the difficulties we have encountered of late.
President Bush and I have formulated specific objectives to develop our dialogue on all issues on the broad agenda of Russian-U.S. relations. We have agreed to widen our contacts, including through our respective presidential executive offices and national security councils. We also discussed economic matters. Here the objective is clear: to give the political basis of our cooperation a solid economic foundation.
We spoke about how essential it is to create a favourable investment climate and about our work together in international organisations, including in economic organisations.
Space remains one of the most important areas of our cooperation, and this was confirmed in our joint statement.
Summing up, I would like to stress that the Russian-U.S. partnership is not just some isolated factor in world politics. It is very important that it help unite the world community in the face of new threats and challenges.
In conclusion, I would like to say that our talks were very frank and we exchanged a lot of information. I would like to thank President Bush for coming to Russia and coming to St. Petersburg, especially now when the city is celebrating its 300th anniversary. This has great significance for me personally, and I am grateful to President Bush for this.
GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm honored to be here, Mr. President, and I'm honored to be with my good friend, Vladimir Putin. This is the third time I've been to this beautiful city, and I want to congratulate you on a successful 300th anniversary celebration.
Last night's celebrations were fantastic. It was a beautiful evening. Today we mark an important achievement in the relations between the United States and Russia. President Putin and I have just exchanged instruments of the ratification for the Treaty of Moscow, which will reduce both our nuclear arsenals to the lowest level in decades. This treaty reflects the new strategic relationship that is emerging between our nations.
This treaty was founded on mutual respect and a common commitment to a more secure world. We are working closely to confront the challenges of our time. Both of our countries have suffered greatly at the hands of terror, and our governments are taking actions against this threat.
We are going to win the war on terror by cooperation, as well as providing security and hope for innocent people. That's why I support the goals of ending the fighting and suffering in Chechnya and reaching a lasting political settlement in that region.
The United States and Russia are also determined to meet the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. We strongly urge North Korea to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons program. We are concerned about Iran's advanced nuclear program and urge Iran to comply in full with its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
President Putin and I intend to strengthen our own cooperation on missile defense, which is essential to the security of both our nations. The United States appreciates Russia's recent support for lifting U.N. sanctions on Iraq, and we both agreed that the United Nations must play a vital role in Iraq's reconstruction. We discussed ways we can work together to help build a better future for the people of Iraq.
President Putin and I also discussed the growing economic relationship between our countries. And these ties will expand significantly as Russia opens to the world economy and qualifies for membership in the World Trade Organization. I assured the President that I will continue to work with Congress and firmly committed to remove Russia from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. The United States and Russia are working together to ensure that Russia's energy sector can fulfill its potential in world energy markets.
Our relationship is broad. We greatly appreciate Russia's support of the International Space Station following the loss of our space shuttle Columbia. We are committed to continue to work together for the good of the world.
President Putin and I have agreed to expand and strengthen high-level contacts and communications between our two governments. I invited the President to come to the United States for a visit in September to visit at Camp David.
In a recent address to the Russian Duma, President Putin committed to working for a sustainable democracy in Russia where human, political, and civil rights will be fully ensured. That is the vision of a strong leader. With that vision, there's no question in my mind that Russia will fulfill its potential for greatness. And as you do so, Mr. President, you'll have the friendship of the United States. Thank you.
Question: Has there been any progress in the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and have any such weapons actually been found? And also, what are the prospects for the oil business in Iraq?
GEORGE W. BUSH: The first part of your question is that — is whether or not the weapons of mass destruction question. Here's what — we've discovered a weapons system, biological labs, that Iraq denied she had, and labs that were prohibited under the U.N. resolutions.
Vladimir can speak to the issue of the future of Iraq, at least his opinion of the future. But my opinion is, is that we must work together to improve the lives of the Iraqi citizens, that we must cooperate closely to make sure that the Iraqi infrastructure is in place so that the Iraqi citizens can live decently.
And as to the energy sector, the Iraqi people will make the decision which is in their best interest. Russia has had a long history of involvement in Iraq, and the Iraqi authorities, when they are firmly in place, will make the decision based upon that experience and based upon their country's best interests.
Vladimir Putin: As you know, Russia voted in favour of the latest resolution on Iraq. Russia did not abstain, did not vote against, but voted to support it. We see this as a serious step towards working together on Iraq within the framework of the United Nations, and this includes working together with the United States. It must be said that our experts worked well and came up with decisions that were acceptable for everyone. We think that this cooperation will broaden, including in the area of disarmament. But we also think we should go further, and of course we need some serious thought, including regarding Iraq. I agree absolutely with President Bush that we need to think about the Iraqi people, about how life for the people there will take shape.
Incidentally, the resolution also sets out how the situation with rebuilding Iraq should shape up in the near future. Russian companies do indeed have good experience working in Iraq. We are ready to continue our cooperation with the Iraqi authorities and with the international community by making available all the experience, necessary means and resources for rebuilding Iraq that we have at our disposal. There is the possibility that our companies will work in Iraq, but this will depend on the situation there, including with regards to the Oil for Food Programme. As for long-term prospects and investment projects, that is a matter for the future. Of course, we are discussing these matters with our partners throughout the world, including with the United States, and we will also work on these matters with the future Iraqi authorities.
Question: My first question is addressed to both presidents: Do you think the differences between Russia and the United States over Iraq have weakened or strengthened relations between the two countries? And my second question is for Mr. Bush: Tell me please, will the U.S. administration act on future international issues as it acted on Iraq, that is to say, circumventing the United Nations?
GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, first of all, I don't think we went around the United Nations. I remind you we had what's called Resolution 1441. We worked through the United Nations. As a matter of fact, I think this experience will make our relationship stronger, not weaker. As we go forward, we will show the world that friends can disagree, move beyond disagreement and work in a very constructive and important way to maintain the peace.
Vladimir Putin: Strange as it may seem, I do think our relations have become stronger. Despite all the problems, during all this work on Iraq we not only kept up our personal contacts, we also made the instruments for our cooperation more precise. Though there was a lot of tension in this situation, we did show restraint and we took care to look after our personal relations and the ties between our two countries. I saw how President Bush went about this, and how professionally and respectfully he treated opinions he did not agree with. I tried to do likewise. Today’s meeting has shown that we were successful.
Question: Looking at the threat from Iran and its programme to produce its own nuclear weapons, have you managed to convince President Putin not to cooperate with Iran, and not to deliver the necessary supplies to Iran? And what are the hopes that Iran will not try to manufacture its own nuclear weapons?
GEORGE W. BUSH: Russia and the United States have mutual concerns about the advanced Iranian nuclear program. We understand the consequences of Iran having a nuclear weapon. And therefore, we want to work together, as well as with the IAEA, to insist that they not have a nuclear weapon. And I appreciate Vladimir Putin's understanding of the issue and his willingness to work with me and others to solve this potential problem.
Vladimir Putin: If I may add, Russia and the United States are a lot closer in their positions on this issue than it might seem. You don’t need to convince us that we should do all possible to prevent weapons of mass destruction from spreading around the planet. This goes not only for Iran but also for other regions. President Bush and I agree completely on this issue, and on many other conceptual issues facing us in the modern world. Our points of view coincide on many matters. This is what makes it possible for me to call President Bush my friend, and for him to call me his friend, and not just the fact that I like him personally, though this is true, or that my family likes him. I repeat, we share common views on many of the key issues for the development of our modern world.
As for Iran, and I also spoke quite frankly about this today, we oppose using nuclear programmes or anything else as a means of creating unfair competition for our companies on the Iranian market. We will work in cooperation with all our partners, including with the United States, on preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and this applies fully to Iran, too.
Question: Mr. Putin, do you think there are still problems to overcome in Russian-U.S. relations? And in these conditions, what can Russia and the international community as a whole do to deal successfully with the problem of international terrorism?
Vladimir Putin: I do not think that we’ve had any problems we cannot overcome. There are always problems, sometimes they become more apparent, and other times they are less noticeable. Of course, a lot depends on us and on how we go about resolving these problems. The main thing is that we have to want to resolve them. President Bush and I both want to resolve them, and we will do all within our power to ensure that we have fewer problems and more points of agreement. This will be all the more effective if the media help us in this task. Thank you for your attention.