Question: It was the first function you attended here. What are your impressions of the official visit and its results?
President Vladimir Putin: Let’s begin with impressions. A very warm welcome and very warm feelings for Russia. The country [Chile] is located far away [from Russia] and the volume of our trade and economic relations is not very large so far. But the country has a good potential. It is a rapidly developing economy and, though located in Latin America, it trades broadly with Europe, China and Asia. Its partners on the American continent account only for one-third of its trade. In other words, it has the experience of working with geographically remote partners; it has the necessary requirements and capabilities. And so we have a good chance, in particular, to use Chile as the bridgehead for developing relations with other Latin American countries. This is first.
Second, we have signed WTO accession agreements with the Chilean side, which is a good step towards attaining this goal, especially because we have not finished accession talks with some other partners, in particular the US, yet.
Question: What is your opinion of your talks with George W.Bush?
Vladimir Putin: I have again, this time personally, congratulated the President on his election victory. Most importantly, we confirmed that the standards of relations between the two countries, which we achieved in the past few years, are the point of departure now. We will not stop; we will use all instruments created in the past years to develop interstate relations. And we will keep on developing and intensifying economic relations; the outlook is positive.
Everyone knows that the US is one of our main trade and economic partners, and the prospects are very good. But this is not all. We also spoke about bilateral aspects of international security. It should be remembered that the US and Russia are the largest nuclear powers. We have common interests in this sphere, in particular, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In this connection we discussed North Korean problems and the question of the “Iranian nuclear file.”
I can tell you that we have the same views on many issues and we will try, at least, to solve problems peacefully, at the negotiating table. The more so that we see noticeable improvement on the Iranian track, following the recent decisions made by the Iranian leadership.
We also discussed possible meetings in the future. I invited the US President to come to Russia, to Moscow, during the May 9 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War next year.
Question: What can you say about the results of the APEC summit?
Vladimir Putin: As for the summit results, they are concerned above all with discussions of economic issues, the struggle against corruption, improvement of international trade, and liberalization of the global economy. In this sense, Russia would like to carry on dialog with its partners, meaning as regard accession to the WTO. Like before, we are resolved to become a member of this universal international economic organization. But, as we have said more than once, we want to join it on standard, discrimination-free, conditions.
We are satisfied with the decisions and the discussion of these issues in Chile, because all participants in today’s meeting confirmed the principles underlying the WTO and APEC. I mean the Bogor Goals, the goals of free economy. We need nothing more from our partners. We hope the talks with the countries with which we have not signed relevant protocols so far will proceed positively.
As for terrorism, everyone knows that Russia is, regrettably, an object of attacks — repeated attacks — by international terrorists. And we sincerely want to develop international cooperation in this sphere. We spoke in the same language here, I must say; there was no difference of opinion or misunderstanding between the meeting participants, today or yesterday. We are greatly satisfied with the discussion and the decisions taken on this issue.
Question: What about your meeting with Hu Jintao?
Vladimir Putin: Barely a month has passed since my visit to China, yet we had things to discuss. We spoke about the implementation of the Joint Action Plan, the development of bilateral relations, and international relations in respect of Iraq and especially North Korea, where Russia and China are playing an active part in the six-party mechanism of the North Korean settlement. We spoke about cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, including with partners in Central Asia. These issues were discussed in considerable detail and, I am sure, this will benefit bilateral ties.
Question: Since you plan to visit Japan, what is your view of your meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi today?
Vladimir Putin: I have a positive view. I am satisfied with today’s meeting, as well as the nature of problems discussed there and the atmosphere of the discussion. It was benevolent, I would even say, friendly. We spoke openly about positive changes that have appeared in bilateral relations of late. There are positive changes, you know, and we are happy about this. We also spoke openly about problems that have not been solved, including the Peace Treaty. We regret to say that we have not yet come closer to solving these problems. But Japan and Russia are resolved to keep on moving towards each other and to search for a mutually acceptable solution.
Question: You said here that you have made progress at the WTO accession talks. What did you mean?
Vladimir Putin: First, we signed a relevant protocol with Chile, which amounts to progress. We also came to an agreement on WTO accession conditions with one more country. We had a good conversation with the President of Mexico and I hope it will have positive results. We discussed this issue with him, too.
I believe that today’s discussion of principles underlying the construction of modern democratic economic relations in the world at the APEC summit today will have a positive effect on Russia’s accession to the WTO.
We discussed this in a separate conversation with the US President, who has supported, both publicly and in private, Russia’s desire to join the WTO, and who announced his support at our one-on-one meeting. I hope this will have its effect on accession talks.
Question: Thank you for the detailed information about the results of this trip. But what is your general impression? Do you remember how many bilateral meetings you have had these past few days?
Vladimir Putin: I do… You can say that I have had bilateral talks with every one of the world leaders present here, in the presence of the press or without it. There were 19 of my colleagues here, and I have talked with each of them. It may have been a short conversation, possibly without journalists present, but we did discuss international, multilateral and bilateral relations. I had meetings even with [the leaders of] such small but important members of the international economic community as Singapore and Malaysia; even small APEC countries are important to us. I have talked with all participants in the forum.
You know, it was a useful meeting, useful not only for strengthening personal contacts with state leaders but also for creating a certain atmosphere, in particular, an atmosphere around my country.