President Vladimir Putin: Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to confirm that the President of Uzbekistan and I not only talked for a long time, but that our talk was substantial and very productive. We discussed virtually all the aspects of our interaction.
Cooperation in the gas sphere had an important place in our talks. The President of Uzbekistan also talked about this – we will work on realizing agreements on strategic cooperation in the gas sphere. This agreement was signed earlier. We intend to advance it efficiently, to give it a new quality, and work, I would say, not just with new quality, but in new volumes, bearing in mind the serious capabilities of Uzbekistan in this area.
Serious attention at the talks was devoted to interaction of our countries in international countries, above all, within the CIS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. We are certain that one of the key tasks is to develop the economic component of the CIS.
The close interaction of Russia and Uzbekistan is also important for tackling the strategic task of opposing the terrorist threat. As part of this work, at a meeting of the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Moscow, we welcomed Uzbekistan’s initiative to accommodate an SCO Anti-terrorist Centre in Tashkent. Mr Karimov told us how work on this task is proceeding. I was very pleased to see that we also intend to work closely in this area in the future, to coordinate our efforts in the fight against international terrorism. We are certain that already today, the structures that I have mentioned are capable of becoming important components of the entire security system in Central Asia.
During our meeting we also exchanged opinions on important international problems. We did indeed discuss Iraq, and other “trouble spots” as well. Of course, we discussed the events taking place in Afghanistan in the most detail. And this is understandable, because Afghanistan is close to Russia’s borders, and very close to the borders of Uzbekistan. It was very important for me to hear President Karimov’s opinion and evaluation of the events taking place in Afghanistan, on the prospects for development of the situation there.
Question: Formerly, the Russian textile industry was primarily based on cotton from Uzbekistan. What do you think the prospects are for restoring ties in this sphere, and does Russia plan to increase volumes of cotton imports from Uzbekistan?
President Vladimir Putin: Russia, of course, is interested in getting raw material for factories of light industry and the textile industry. Of course, this interest exists, has existed and will continue to exist. Unfortunately, today to a significant degree, our textile industry buys cotton through third countries. This is primarily in the interests of subpurchasers and intermediary firms and organisations. President Karimov and I discussed this matter today. We will try to do everything in our power. At any rate, we will create conditions to enable direct links between cotton producers and light industry factories in Russia.
Question: You have just returned from Malaysia, but neither Russian nor Uzbek journalists have had the chance to ask you about the results of your visit. Could you give us your assessment, and also your opinion of the contract that was signed there?
President Vladimir Putin: I assess the results of the visit to Malaysia highly. We were able to examine our cooperation of the past few years, and to analyse the mechanisms of this cooperation. We came to the conclusion that they work very effectively.
As for the contract, it really is a major contract, and without any doubt it will be beneficial for our aviation industry. The contract is for almost $1 billion. I would also like our plans to be realized together with Malaysia in servicing Russian military equipment in this country, but I should say that our interaction with Malaysia will not be limited to SU-30MKM planes alone.
We also talked about Malaysia buying Russian helicopters, and the possibility of buying special civil aviation planes, including planes used for putting our fires. The Malaysians liked this equipment very much. We talked about cooperation in several branches of manufacture, such as electronics, and the manufacture of electronic products.
We are making plans, and they are quite specific and feasible, in high technology areas such as space. Malaysia has already launched an earth satellite with our help. We plan to launch another three to four satellites in the years to come, and at least one will be launched with the help of a Russian carrier rocket. Malaysia also has ambitious plans, such as sending their own astronaut researcher into space. And this will not just be a tourist trip; it will be research work. Malaysia is a country that produces a great deal of complex technical equipment. In this sense, there is also a lot to work on in space. Malaysia has major promising plans to investigate their natural resources and minerals, and in this area an interesting programme is being developed to use Russian capabilities of investigating the Earth from space with the help of space vehicles – a space probe of the Earth.
This is only a short list of the issues that we discussed in the bilateral and economic areas, and they are very interesting. In this sense, we can regard Malaysia as an area for advancing our economic interests in the Asian Pacific region. Furthermore, Malaysia has its own face in international affairs, and we discussed many aspects of international problems: the situation in Afghanistan, and in Iraq. Malaysia’s position is of great interest to us, even though it is not a large country in population – 25 million people. Nevertheless, from October this year Malaysia will head the Islamic Conference Organisation. I should say that both the Prime Minister and the country itself have considerable authority in the Islamic world.