President Bush (www.whitehouse.gov): Vladimir and I just had a very constructive dialogue, particularly about missile defense. He expressed his concerns to me. He is concerned that the missile defense system is not an act that a friend would do. He made some interesting suggestions. As a result of our discussions, we both agreed to have a strategic dialogue, a opportunity to share ideas and concerns between our State Department, Defense Department and military people.
This will be a serious set of strategic discussions. This is a serious issue and we want to make sure that we all understand each other's positions very clearly. As a result of these conversations, I expect there to be better understanding of the technologies involved and the opportunities to work together.
I told Vladimir we're looking forward to having him up to my folks' place in Maine the beginning of July. And we'll be able to continue our discussions, our bilateral discussions on a variety of issues.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to support everything the President of the United States said except for one thing. I did not say that friends do not act in such way. We have the same understanding of common threats. But we also have differences. Differences with respect to how and with what means we can best counter these threats.
We carefully considered the proposals made by the United States and we have our own ideas. I outlined them in detail. The first proposal involves the joint use of the Gabala radar station that Russia leases from Azerbaijan. I spoke with the President of Azerbaijan about this just yesterday. Our present agreement with Azerbaijan would allow us to do this and the President of Azerbaijan stressed that he would be happy if his country could contribute to ensuring global security in this way.
We can do this automatically and in this case the system we established would include all of Europe without exception, rather than simply one part of the continent. This would completely eliminate the possibility of missiles falling on European countries because they would fall either into the sea or into the ocean. It would eliminate the need — or, more accurately — allow us to refrain from changing our position and retargeting our missiles. On the contrary, it would create propitious conditions for joint work.
But this work has to be multifaceted and involve all European countries. We agreed with George that our experts will begin working on this as soon as possible. This would eliminate the need to deploy our missile strike system in the immediate vicinity of our European borders and to deploy the U.S. missile strike system in outer space. But we hope that these talks will not act as a convenient shield under which to begin unilateral action. I told George so. Because as soon as any country, including Iran, completes the first test of its long-range missiles, our intelligence services — both American and Russian ones — will record this.
Following the first test there is a minimum period of three to five years before such missiles could be deployed. This is enough time to develop and deploy any missile defence system. For that reason no matter how long we continue negotiating we shall never be too late. The main thing is that these talks were substantive and took our mutual security interests into consideration.
I am very grateful to the President of the United States for the very constructive conversation we had today.
President Bush (www.whitehouse.gov): We'll answer one question apiece. Toby. Then we got to go to a meeting.
Question (www.whitehouse.gov): President Putin, are you saying now that you do not consider the missile defense issue a serious threat to your country anymore? And were you satisfied with what President Bush presented to you in this meeting?
President Putin: I think that if we work together to overcome the threats we are discussing today, and if we take into account the concerns of each other, if we make this work transparent and if we provide for an equal access to the system then we'll have — through the management of this system — then we will have no problem. And I'm, of course, satisfied with the spirit of openness in which we discussed this problem today on behalf of President of the United States.
Question (www.whitehouse.gov): My question is for both Presidents. In your today's dialogue what was more, constructive things, or rather differences? What prevailed?
President Bush (www.whitehouse.gov): Well, you just heard, that the desire to work together to allay people's fears. There's a lot of people who don't like it when Russia and the United States argue, and it creates tensions. Russia is a great country, and so is the United States. It's much better to work together than it is to create tensions.
Thanks. See you later.