Vladimir Putin: I am very happy to have the opportunity to welcome you to the Kremlin, and present you with the state award of the Russian Federation – the order of Friendship.
45 years has gone by since a presentation of your product was made at a Moscow exhibition. Since then, PepsiCo has taken a firm position on the Soviet, and now the Russian market.
It is pleasing for me to note that all your activity, all your contacts with our country were always without any political subtext. You have always been and remain not just a reliable commercial partner of Russia, but we also see you as a great friend of our country, a person who has a profound knowledge and love of the history and culture of our country. And with all the business you have done over many years, you have helped the development between the peoples of Russia and the U.S. This is a major contribution to building modern international relations. On behalf of the Russian Federation, I would like to thank you. Allow me to present you with the award I mentioned earlier – the order of Friendship.
I would like to make use of today’s meeting in the Kremlin to hear your assessment of the state of trade and economic ties between our countries. You know it from the inside like no one else. And perhaps I could hear your recommendations about what you think should be improved in our relations in the near future.
Donald Kendall: Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk here. As you know, I have been involved in the development of Russian-American relations for a long time, and first came to the Soviet Union when you, Mr. President, were only seven years old. I have been doing business in Russia for a very long time, and first came here during the Khrushchev era, and also worked under the Nixon administration and helped to organise relations between President Nixon and Brezhnev. As you know, I was the co-chairman of the first trade and economic council that was created between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and so I tried to help to strengthen our relations in any way I could. I saw a great deal of processes which many people did not know about. For example, President Nixon, when we met and talked about trade issues, told me that we should not put a wall around the Soviet Union, and that it was necessary to develop bilateral relations between various people at various levels. However, I believe that relations between leaders have never been as critical and important as they are between you, Mr. President, and President Bush. I know that you have very good personal contacts.
I would like to mention another issue and ask for your help. You know the conductor Valery Gergiev, who works in the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg – he came up with the idea of founding a wide commission which would include not just politicians, but representatives of the business community, culture, and also people involved in tourism. We would like for this group to support the development of relations between Russia and the U.S. And I would like for you to assist in ensuring that a representative of the Exxon Company is the chairman of this commission. I have talked about this issue with Ministers Kudrin and Gref, and they evaluated it positively. I would like you to help us create this commission. On my part, I will provide whatever assistance I can. I know that the former chairman of a bank network will also help in this issue. And I am certain that together we will be able to put forward the idea about the creation of this commission.
Vladimir Putin: Firstly, I would like to say that I really was just a child when you started your business in the Soviet Union. This business actively developed in Russia over many years. The fact that relations between Russia and the U.S. have reached a fundamentally new level is in part thanks to you, but not just over the course of past years – I know that today you also make a significant contribution to the development of relations between our nations.
I want to stress that we know your position on the development of relations between our nations, and assess it highly. The U.S. President and I really have established very warm relations. We may have different approaches and different assessments of events in various spheres, but we have the most important thing – a feeling of trust in each other and great respect. And I think that on this base, we can achieve a great deal in the development of bilateral relations. And we can positively affect the development of the situation in the world as a whole. It is particularly pleasing for me to note that you, a representative of major American business, give such attention to the development of cultural ties. Valery Gergiev told me about the ideas that you just mentioned, and of course we will do everything required from our side, from myself personally, to ensure that this idea receives support and develops actively. But I would like for this to be just one element in the development of relations between the U.S. and the Russian Federation.