Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani: Today I am glad to be able to welcome His Excellency, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, with whom we discussed all areas of cooperation between the Russian Federation and the state of Qatar. Our relations with the Russian Federation are characterised by friendship and cooperation. We are both interested in establishing good relations, especially since we are both members of the UN Security Council. Once again I welcome Mr Putin. Please go ahead.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: First of all I would like to express my gratitude to His Highness, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, for the warm welcome he gave the Russian delegation in Qatar.
We finished our talks and I must point out that these talks were constructive and held in a very business-like atmosphere – in a kind and friendly atmosphere.
During our conversation we evaluated the condition and development tendencies of Russian-Qatari relations. We came to the conclusion that our relations are developing steadily and dynamically. And the fact that our opinions practically coincide on a whole range of international problems suggests additional possibilities for bilateral cooperation. And both parties are convinced that any international problems, even the most difficult ones, must be resolved by peaceful means.
In light of the fact that Russia and Qatar hold close positions on major international issues we certainly discussed topical problems in international relations. And because Qatar is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2006 and 2007, cooperation with Qatar holds a special interest for Russia.
One important theme of our negotiations was the development of trade and economic cooperation. Both Russia and Qatar want to achieve a qualitative breakthrough in this area and change the present situation for the better. And we have no shortage of opportunities for such dynamic developments. There are important prospects opening up in the fuel and energy sectors, in metallurgical branches, in high-tech sectors and in the investment sector.
Russian and Qatari entrepreneurs demonstrate increased mutual interest in establishing business cooperation. And we are referring to leader companies, ones that have already passed from words to deeds.
Today we signed a memorandum of mutual understanding between Lukoil and Qatar Petroleum. I would add that the largest Russian companies, Gazprom and RUSAL, are also ready to engage in active cooperation.
I also consider that signing an agreement to establish a Russian-Qatari business council is a significant event towards increasing our bilateral relations. Such organisations are already successfully operating in thirteen Arab countries and the new council’s activities will promote further economic cooperation between our states.
We also paid quite close attention developing our relations in the cultural and educational spheres. We invited a Qatari delegation to Russia to develop relations in this respect. I am referring to education, to ties between museums and between researchers.
In conclusion I would like to wish peace, prosperity and well-being to His Highness, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and to all of Qatar’s inhabitants. I would be glad to welcome your Highness during a visit to Moscow.
Thank you for your attention.
Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani: Thank you Mr President. And I also thank the journalists who came to this conference. Are there any questions?
Question (INTERFAX): Can you tell us whether Russia and Qatar talked about coordination in the gas sector?
Vladimir Putin: They did.
Viacheslav Terekhov: And is that all?
Vladimir Putin: That is already enough. In any case, both Russia and Qatar consider that cooperation in this sector is extremely important for us. And one sometimes hears that since we are both energy producers we are therefore natural competitors. But this is not exactly the case. First of all, our markets are divided and we have now spoken with our hosts, with the receiving side, and they all perfectly understand what pipeline gas is, and that it will always be cheaper in certain regions of the world where we have pipelines than liquefied gas. All understand this very clearly. And it is very important that we cooperate with one another and that we help one another in the world market.
Demand for our raw materials is constantly increasing and we are well aware of this. It is very important for us to develop common approaches, to protect producers’ interests, to establish uniform working conditions for producers’ work and to establish a corresponding system of relations with our main consumers. And in this respect our partners in Qatar are very interesting for Russia and I am convinced that our specialists will come to the conference that will take place in Qatar in April, a conference for the producers of raw natural gas. We will certainly take part.
Question (AL-JAZEERA): A question for Mr President and His Highness the Emir: did you mention the situation in Iraq and the Palestinian problem?
And a separate question to President Vladimir Putin: what steps are you waiting to see following your appeal for a peace conference on the Middle East?
Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani: First of all, we support the Middle Eastern peace conference that President Vladimir Putin advocated. We consider that our region requires such help, especially in view of the unstable situation in Iraq, in Palestine and in Lebanon. We consider that these conflicts have already existed for a long time. We welcome cooperation in this field and hope that this idea will be favourably received in other countries. We are confident that Russia will have success in this field.
Vladimir Putin: Of course we would like to know the results this conference would have even before it starts – it would be good to know the outcome in advance. Yet it is unlikely that we can completely resolve such a complicated question as the Middle Eastern peace settlement before we gather for this conference. But what we see happening today is regrettable, to say the very least.
Incidentally, while in Saudi Arabia we talked about this with our Saudi friends. We welcome everything that the Saudi party has done with a view to finding a settlement. I think that except for the King of Saudi Arabia it is unlikely that anyone else could do something useful in this area and he assumed the responsibility for this task and executed it. Much will depend on the Quartet and on implementing the agreements reached in Saudi Arabia.
We are grateful to our Qatari friends for supporting our initiative to host a Middle Eastern peace conference and will work on preparing it.
Question (FRANCE PRESSE): First, a question to His Highness the Emir concerning elections in Qatar. And the second for Mr Putin: did you refuse the offer to create a gas cartel?
Vladimir Putin: I would not say that we refused the offer to create a gas cartel. On the contrary, we did not reject anything and I said that it was an interesting offer. But whether this cartel is necessary and whether we will implement it is a separate matter.
But producers of hydrocarbons certainly should coordinate their activities. And I confirmed that the Russian party is ready to participate in the conference of gas producers that will take place here in Doha, in the Emirate of Qatar. We support this initiative and will participate actively in it. We do not yet know what concrete results it will bring. I agree with His Highness: we do not need to repeat anything that we consider erroneous from the activities of other types of cartels, but of course we will coordinate our work with that of our colleagues.
Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani: We certainly did come to an agreement. I will return to your other question later. We reached an agreement with President Putin about the convention that will assemble countries that export gas. These countries will discuss whether some kind of future alliance will be established. We consider that the difference between OPEC and a gas cartel is that OPEC can raise and lower prices whereas gas contracts are long-term, in a long-term perspective – for 20 years or more. For that reason we hope that the meeting that will take place in Qatar will be crowned with success and that we will discuss this factor.
And with respect to the question on parliamentary life in Qatar, two or three weeks ago the Interior Minister said to the government cabinet that the time for determining when the elections will be held is approaching and we hope that it will soon come to pass.