President of The United States Barack Obama: Good afternoon, everybody. Please be seated. Dobryy Den. After many meetings around the world, I’m delighted to welcome my friend and partner, President Medvedev, to the White House.
This is also an opportunity to return the wonderful hospitality that the President, Mrs Medvedeva, and the Russian people showed me and my family during our visit to Moscow one year ago. Michelle and I enjoyed a wonderful evening at the President’s home. Our daughters will never forget having tea in the Winter Garden of the Kremlin. And, Mr President, I hope you’ll remember having a burger at Ray’s Hells [sic] Burger today. (Laughter.)
We just concluded some excellent discussions — discussions that would have been unlikely just 17 months ago. As we’ve both said before, when I came into office, the relationship between the United States and Russia had drifted — perhaps to its lowest point since the Cold War. There was too much mistrust and too little real work on issues of common concern. That did not serve the interests of either country or the world. Indeed, I firmly believe that America’s most significant national security interests and priorities could be advanced most effectively through cooperation, not an adversarial relationship, with Russia.
That’s why I committed to resetting the relationship between our two nations, and in President Medvedev I’ve found a solid and reliable partner. We listen to one another and we speak candidly. So, Mr President, I’m very grateful for your leadership and your partnership.
By any measure, we have made significant progress and achieved concrete results. Together, we negotiated and signed the historic New START Treaty, committing our nations to significant reductions in deployed nuclear weapons. Today, we reaffirmed our commitment to work to ratify this treaty as soon as possible so it can enter into force and set the stage for further cuts and cooperation.
Together, we’ve strengthened the global nonproliferation regime so that as we meet our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, other nations meet theirs and are held accountable if they don’t.
Along with our international partners, we passed and are enforcing new UN sanctions against North Korea. We offered Iran the prospect of a better future, and when they refused, we joined with Russia and our partners on the Security Council to impose the toughest sanctions ever faced by the government of Iran.
Together, our nations have deepened our cooperation against violent extremism, as terrorists threaten both our people, be it in Times Square or in Moscow. And today we’ve agreed to expand our cooperation on intelligence and counterterrorism. Russian transit routes now play a vital role in supplying American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. And to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons, we came together at our Nuclear Security Summit, where our two nations made numerous commitments, including agreeing to eliminate enough plutonium for about 17,000 nuclear weapons.
Together, we’ve coordinated our efforts to strengthen the global economic recovery through the G20 — work that we will continue in Toronto this weekend. And today we agreed to continue closely to coordinate our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts following the tragic outbreak of ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan.
Our two countries continue to disagree on certain issues, such as Georgia, and we addressed those differences candidly. But by moving forward in areas where we do agree, we have succeeding in resetting our relationship, which benefits regional and global security. This includes, I would note, a change in the attitudes among the Russian people, who today have a far more favorable view of the United States, and that, in turn, creates more space for additional partnership.
Indeed, this has been the real focus of our work today and of President Medvedev’s visit — not simply resetting our relationship, but also broadening it. Because 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the US-Russian relationship has to be about more than just security and arms control. It has to be about our shared prosperity and what we can build together.
That’s why we created the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission during my visit to Moscow last year — to forge new partnerships, not just between governments, but between our businesses, our peoples and our societies. And today we agreed to forge new cooperation across a whole range of areas.
In particular, we’re expanding trade and commerce. We agreed to deepen our collaboration on energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. And this afternoon, President Medvedev and I will join American and Russian business leaders as they move forward with a series of major trade and investment deals that will create jobs for Americans and Russians across many sectors, from aerospace and automotive engineering to the financial sector and high technology. Consistent with my administration’s National Export Initiative, this includes the sale of 50 Boeing aircraft — worth $4 billion -that could add up to 44,000 new jobs in the American aerospace industry.
To deepen Russia’s integration into the global economy, I reaffirmed our strong commitment to Russia’s ascension to the World Trade Organisation. Today we’ve reached an agreement that will allow the United States to begin exporting our poultry products to Russia once again. And I want to thank President Medvedev and his team for resolving this issue, which is of such importance to American business, and which sends an important signal about Russia’s seriousness about achieving membership in the WTO.
Therefore, I told President Medvedev that our teams should accelerate their efforts to work together to complete this process in the very near future. Russia belongs in the WTO. That’s good for Russia, it’s good for America, and it’s good for the world economy.
I appreciated very much the opportunity to hear President Medvedev’s vision for modernisation in Russia, especially high-tech innovation. This is a personal passion of the President. And during his visit to Silicon Valley this week, he visited the headquarter of Twitters [sic], where he opened his own account. I have one as well, so we may be able to finally throw away those “red phones” that have been sitting around for so long. (Laughter.)
American companies and universities were among the first to invest in President Medvedev’s initiative to create a Russian Silicon Valley outside Moscow, and more are announcing new investments today.
Mr President, the United States will be your partner as you promote the transparency and accountability and rule of law that’s needed to infuse this spirit of innovation throughout your economy.
We’re deepening partnerships between our societies. As they did during our meeting in Moscow, leaders from civil society groups — Russian and American — are meeting here in Washington to explore new ways to cooperate in education and health, human rights and combating corruption. And in the spirit of President Medvedev’s visit, they’re placing a special focus on how new technologies can improve their work.
Finally, I would simply add that the new partnership between our people spans the spectrum, from space to science to sports. I think, Mr President, you're aware that recently I welcomed to the White House a group of young Russian basketball players — both boys and girls — who were visiting the United States. We went on the White House basketball court, and I have to admit some of them out-shot me. (Laughter.) They represented the hope for the future that brings our countries together.
Those were the same hopes of another generation of Americans and Russians — the generation that stood together as allies in the Second World War — the Great Patriotic War in which the Russian people suffered and sacrificed so much. We recently marked the 65th anniversary of our shared victory in that war, including that historic moment when American and Soviet troops came together in friendship at the Elbe River in Germany.
A reporter who was there at that time, all those years ago, said: “If there is a fine, splendid world in the future, it will largely be because the United States and Russia get on well together. If it is in trouble, it will be because they don’t get on well. It’s as simple as that.”
Mr President, the decades that followed saw many troubles — too many troubles. But 65 years later, it’s still as simple as that. Our countries are more secure and the world is safer when the United States and Russia get on well together.
So I thank you for your partnership and your commitment to the future that we can build together, for this and for future generations.
With that, let me introduce President Medvedev.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr President.
Distinguished colleagues, of course, I must start with thanking my counterpart, President Barack Obama, for the invitation to visit the United States of America with a visit and for the exceptional hospitality and generosity we observed here. Even the weather is so warm that it leaves no doubt that everything is the result of hard work in terms of preparation of the visit. Our delegation appreciated the hospitality.
In Moscow, we met in a variety of places, and today I have managed to have a lunch with President Barack Obama at a very interesting place which is typically American. Probably it’s not quite healthy, but it’s very tasty, and you can feel the spirit of America.
But this is not the main thing we were engaged in. The Russian delegation had a very busy schedule which started in California. In a sense, it was an unparalleled event, because besides the fact that it’s a very beautiful place on the coast of the United States, it’s a token place, and I hope this is a symbolic launch of cooperation between our countries in the sphere of innovation and high-tech.
The President and I spoke today, as well as at our previous meetings, about valuable steps we have made toward strengthening trust between our nations. We have made steps aimed at establishing a more reliable structure of our relations, and to a certain extent, we made our world safer. I must say this.
But so far, we have not done that much to improve our bilateral economic relations, hence this visit is mostly aimed at achieving these goals. We are ready for that and our American partners are ready for this same thing. The President and I agreed to work in this area, and most of today’s talks were devoted to economic issues, and first and foremost, some fairly complicated issues such as the Russian Federation’s WTO membership. Mr President just said that we have reached progress and made headway, but I think that we may still deliberate on this issue some more.
I am sure that kind of cooperation we may have high-tech sphere can be mutually beneficial, including in the framework of those new projects launched in the Russian Federation.
We are now creating near Moscow our own version of Silicon Valley, the innovation centre in Skolkovo, and hope that our American partners will participate actively in bringing this project to life. We have already some good groundwork for that.
My talks yesterday in Silicon Valley, the recent St Petersburg International Economic Forum, and the decisions of major international companies to come to Russia with such investment – all of this is inspiring and shows that we are capable of reaching agreements, not just when it comes to missiles or the most difficult matters on the international agenda. I expect that respective business processes will soon be launched in Russia.
Yesterday, I had a very interesting experience of visiting Stanford University, a well-known university with a special kind of atmosphere. It was a real pleasure to take a walk around Stanford without necktie and a suit, but in jeans. People in high positions rarely have a chance for that which always makes it a real treat.
I also spoke to some of Stanford’s professors and young businesspeople. These conversations left a really good impression because they were open and sincere, and at the same time, I felt their interest in strengthening our friendly relations and creating new high-tech projects in the Russian Federation and the United States of America.
As for the talks we have had, Mr President already spoke about this in sufficient detail, so there’s nearly nothing left for me to add. I think we have covered all the main topics. We are interested in clearing the dead weight that accumulated during the previous period in bilateral trade and investment.
Russia has been actively participating in international labour division. Upon completion of the Washington Summit, we both will be flying to Canada (albeit, in different airplanes), where we will work to promote common goals and discuss the global financial agenda. Definitely, in our efforts within the G20 format a great deal depends on how well we understand each other.
Today, we spoke about how our economies are responding to the consequences of the crisis and agreed that a lot has already been done, but a great deal is yet to be done. The President of the United States told me about some new ideas that he plans to submit to Congress in order to make the US economy more stable. I briefed him on our crisis exit measures. I believe it was a helpful exchange of opinions. We will certainly cooperate when discussing at the G20 summit the issues of restoring the global finance and establishing a new economic order.
There are still some areas where we have to make significant changes to the situation – I am referring to the investment climate – and stimulate our businesspeople to be more aware of one another, investing money into our economies. That is precisely why, after this news conference, we will be having a meeting with our businesspeople, the business communities of our nations where we will talk about what is to be done to bring the level of economic investment cooperation between our countries is line with the potential of economies like that of the United States and the Russian Federation.
Recently, we have created a range of useful instruments. One of them is the Presidential Commission that was already mentioned. On the one hand, it is a common instrument, but on the other hand, it is a mechanism for providing effective cooperation that corresponds with the spirit of our current relations – our friendly relations as partners – linking myself and President Barack Obama. Thus, I hope that all my colleagues present here, as well as others who are members of the Presidential Commission, will actively work to implement the plans that we have made.
We covered the international agenda, as is the custom. Maybe we spoke about it less today because, in my view, we spoke more about it at previous meetings and, I will repeat again, we were able to make progress. We talked about the situation in the Middle East and the consequences of passing the resolution on Iran, the situation on the Korean peninsula, the situation in Kyrgyzstan, and several other particularly difficult issues on our planet.
We also spoke about European security. We are united in the belief that Europe must have its own security system. We diverge on some issues mentioned by Mr President, including the issue of the after-effects of the conflict initiated in 2008 by the leadership of Georgia. But this does not prevent us from discussing the future or launching new mechanisms for communicating on this issue.
We discussed the situation around the new START treaty. Right now, our challenge as presidents is to ensure that it is ratified calmly and predictably by our parliaments. I hope this will happen soon. In any case, the Federation Council and the State Duma are already holding hearings on this issue. Similar hearings are taking place in the Congress and the Senate. Thus, I think that these active discussions should reveal the truth and synchronise the ratification process.
We are also thinking ahead about the future. I suppose that this is a very serious responsibility for the Russian Federation and the United States of America. We are not shying away from this responsibility. We will be in contact.
I am always ready to discuss most diverse issues with my colleague. It should be noted we succeed in these discussions. Last time the US President and I spoke on the phone, I set my new personal record for length of time spent in a telephone conversation, although perhaps Mr President has had longer telephone exchanges with someone else. We spoke for one hour and forty-five minutes. I can tell you honestly that this is a lot. My ear was hurting by the end, but we got results.
We won’t talk now about what we discussed and the nuances of that conversation. What’s most important is that we talked about issues with interest and we were engaged in the subject matter. This is the approach to be practiced not by aides and ministers only, but by Presidents as well.
Thus, I am very grateful to my colleague for his active cooperation and for the truly warm welcome that our delegation experienced in the United States of America.
Question: Thank you, Mr President. Does the change in command in Afghanistan change your timetable for withdrawal? Is there likely to be any disruption, particularly given Secretary Gates seemed to contradict Vice President Biden’s comments that you can bet on a large number of troops withdrawing in July of 2011? So are you confident that everyone on your team is on the same page when it comes to your plan? Do you expect anyone else to leave?
And if I may, to President Medvedev, given your country’s history and experience in Afghanistan, and your ability to talk candidly with President Obama, have you offered him any advice on the Afghan war? And do you believe that a foreign country can win in Afghanistan?
Barack Obama: The short answer is that what we saw yesterday was a change in personnel but not a change in policy. Let me flesh that out.
When we engaged in an extensive review last year, General Petraeus was part of a group that included Secretaries Gates, Clinton, my national security team that discussed extensively what our various options were in Afghanistan. And what was determined was, number one, that we had to be very clear on our mission.
Our mission, first and foremost, is to dismantle and destroy al Qaeda and its affiliates so that they can’t attack the United States. The reason we’re there in the first place is because 3,000 Americans were killed from an attack launched in that region. We are not going to have that repeated.
In order to achieve that, we have to make sure that we have a stable Afghan government, and we also have to make sure that we’ve got a Pakistani government that is working effectively with us to dismantle these networks.
What we then said was we would put in additional troops to provide the time and the space for the Afghan government to build up its security capacities, to clear and hold population centers that are critical, to drive back the Taliban, to break their momentum, and that beginning next year we would begin a transition phase in which the Afghan government is taking more and more responsibility for its own security.
Here’s what we did not say last year. We did not say that starting July 2011, suddenly there would be no troops from the United States or allied countries in Afghanistan. We didn’t say we’d be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us. What we said is we’d begin a transition phase in which the Afghan government is taking on more and more responsibility.
That is the strategy that was put forward. What we’ve also said is, is that in December of this year, a year after this strategy has been put in place, at a time when the additional troops have been in place and have begun implementing strategy, that we’ll conduct a review and we’ll make an assessment: Is the strategy working? Is it working in part? Are there other aspects of it that aren’t working? How is the coordination between civilian and military? Are we doing enough to build Afghan security capacity? How are we working effectively with our allies?
So we are in the midpoint of implementing the strategy that we came up with last year. We’ll do a review at the end of this year. General Petraeus understands that strategy because he helped shape it. And my expectation is that he will be outstanding in implementing it, and we will not miss a beat because of the change in command in the Afghan theater.
Keep in mind that during this entire time, General Petraeus has been the CENTCOM commander, which means he’s had responsibility in part for overseeing what happened in Afghanistan. And that is part of the reason why I think he’s going to do such a capable job. Not only does he have extraordinary experience in Iraq, not only did he help write the manual for dealing with insurgencies, but he also is intimately familiar with the players. He knows President Karzai. He knows the other personnel who are already on the ground.
So our team is going to be moving forward in sync. It is true that I am going to be insisting on a unity of purpose on the part of all branches of the US government that reflects the enormous sacrifices that are being made by the young men and women who are there.
Every time I go to Walter Reed, when I visited Afghanistan and I visited the hospitals, and you see young men and women who are giving their all, making enormous sacrifices on behalf of the security of this nation, my expectation is, is that the leadership is true to those sacrifices; that the strategy that we’re promoting, the manner in which we are working together at the leadership level fully reflects and honors the incredible dedication of our young men and women on the ground.
That’s what I expect, and I believe that is what I will receive.
Was there one last aspect to the question?
Question: Does anyone else need to go in the chain of command?
Barack Obama: I am confident that we’ve got a team in place that can execute. Now, I'm paying very close attention to make sure that they execute and I will be insisting on extraordinary performance moving forward.
One last thing I just want to remind everybody, though. The issues with General McChrystal that culminated in my decision yesterday were not as a result of a difference in policy. I want to be very clear about that. He was executing the policy that I had laid out; that he was executing the orders that I had issued and that were reflective of the review process that took place last year.
Dmitry Medvedev: I will try to be even briefer than my colleague. It is my hope that my relations with President Obama are indeed those of a friend and partner, but I try not to give any advice of the kind that cannot be fulfilled. This is a very difficult subject in reality.
I can say just two things. First of all, we think that, at the moment, the United States and several other countries are helping the people of Afghanistan to fulfil their long-cherished dream of making their country an effectively functioning and independent state and rebuilding their civil society and economy. In this respect we support the United States’ efforts.
Our own experience in this country is well known. It is my great hope that the people of Afghanistan will succeed very soon in building an effective state and modern economy. This will require a lot of hard work, and it will not all happen overnight, but this is the only road that will give a guarantee against a future repeat of the tragic events that have taken place over recent years.
Question: My question to the President of the United States — you just mentioned that you discussed the issue of Russia joining the WTO during your talks. But I must admit that promises to facilitate Russia’s entry have been heard by the Russian delegation for a decade. Could you more specifically name the time frame when you’re referring to finalizing the process in near future?
And a question to Mr Medvedev — yesterday you visited the Silicon Valley. How did your perceptions on future cooperation between Russia and the US in high-tech sphere change, and what indicators should be reached so that you can call the cooperation a successful one?
Barack Obama: On the WTO, first of all, I emphasiaed to President Medvedev, I emphasised to his entire delegation, and I now want to emphasise to the Russian people, we think it is not only in the interests of the Russian Federation, but in the interests of the United States and in the interests of the world that Russia joins the WTO. So this is something that we want to get resolved.
In terms of time frame, let me give you a sense of perspective from our US Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, who has been in close contact in negotiations with his counterparts on the Russian side. The way he described it is that 90–95 percent of the issues have now been resolved. Now, the remaining 5 to 10 percent are difficult issues and are going to require some significant work. But that should give you some sense that a lot of work has already been done even in the last few months that makes an enormous difference.
Now, in our joint statement, what we were going to essentially instruct our negotiators is that they try to come to terms with the technical issues that remain by the fall. We are going to keep putting pressure on negotiators in the same way that we did during the START Treaty, so that these — there’s a sense of urgency on the part of our team.
A lot of the technical issues, the resolution of those technical issues, though, may be in the hands of the Russian government. We’ve already made progress on some issues like encryption, for example. There may be certain international standards that require modifications in Russian law.
So as much as possible, what I’ve told my team is we are going to do everything we can to get this done as quickly as possible, and we will be very specific and very clear about the technical issues that Russia still faces. And Russia, then, will act in accordance with its needs and requirements internally to meet the demands of the WTO in order to get this done.
But I’m confident that we can get this completed. And I am confident that President Medvedev and his vision for an innovative, modernised, energized economy are entirely consistent with Russia’s joining the WTO.
And I also want to just say this. Sometimes it’s odd when you’re sitting in historic meetings with your Russian counterpart to spend time talking about chicken. (Laughter.) But our ability to get resolved a trade dispute around poultry that is a multibillion-dollar export for the United States was, I think, an indication of the seriousness with which President Medvedev and his team take all of these trade and commercial issues.
And I very much appreciate the steady and consistent manner in which the President has approached these issues. That’s part of what gives me confidence that we’re going to get this done and that this will just be one aspect of a broader strengthening of commercial ties, cross-border investment, and expanded opportunities and job creation both in the Russian Federation and in the United States.
Dmitry Medvedev: I will say a couple of words about the WTO, since this is an important issue for our country.
First, we have indeed settled our common position, which is that there are practically no issues of substance between us now. We have made progress in all areas, from encryption and intellectual property to state organisations and a number of other issues such as synchronising changes to Russian legislation as we move closer to accession. There are therefore no problems in this respect. There are a few technical details that remain to be settled, but our teams have got the cue to work as fast as possible now and we hope that this work, which we discussed and agreed on today, will be completed by the end of September.
I am pleased that we have set a timeframe so as not to lose the positive momentum that the relations between President Obama and I have gathered, and so as not to have discussions on the WTO dissolve into all these endless talks on the fate of poultry or pork trimmings. I hope that we have reached a new situation now.
Turning to the question of cooperation in Silicon Valley, I noted yesterday the calls to use the Russian word for silicon when naming this place in Russian, and I think this is correct, after all, maybe it makes no difference to the Americans, but these nuances do exist as far as we are concerned, so let’s use the proper term. Anyway, one thing that is certainly true was that Silicon Valley is a very interesting place indeed.
I visited some of the big companies there and learned about the way they operate, and I hope that these companies will very soon become our close partners in work on our economy’s modernisation and technological development. This includes companies such as Cisco, where a memorandum on investment of considerable amounts of money in these modernisation projects was signed yesterday. This also applies to small Silicon Valley companies that provide examples of successful business models, successful venture business, or high-technology business models. Of course, it is good to see that Russian companies are starting to come to Silicon Valley too. I visited Yandex Labs yesterday which is a Russian company, Russia’s biggest search engine, and one of the world’s biggest search engines.
We need to learn how to work. There is no sense in being shy about it, or in trying to puff out our cheeks and act like we’re the smartest. The reality is that we do have things to learn about how to organise business. This was something I thought about too after my conversation with Russian business community members who have either moved to America to live or are temporarily working here. They all want to work with Russian investors, and many of them would like to return to Russia and work there. But their most valuable asset is the wealth of experience they have built up, because, as it was very rightly said, Silicon Valley is made above all by the people there, by their minds, their ability to resolve tasks, and only then come the money and other opportunities that create this place’s infrastructure. We will therefore study this experience very thoroughly. As I said, we will not try to copy it down to the last detail, but will draw on some of the best examples that exist today in California within this big project that has received the name of Silicon Valley.
Question: Thank you very much, Mr President. I’d like to ask about the G20, since you are both heading to the summit. On China, you’ve already welcomed its decision on the yuan. Are you satisfied with how far the country has moved since that news? How will this influence your judgment on whether China is a currency manipulator? And when will you release your report to Congress on this matter?
Barack Obama: I think that China made progress by making its announcement that it’s going to be returning to its phased-in, market-based approach to the RMB. The initial signs were positive, but it’s too early to tell whether the appreciation that will track the market is sufficient to allow for the rebalancing that we think is appropriate.
I’m going to leave it up to Secretary Tim Geithner to make a determination as to the pace. He’s the expert when it comes to examining the currency markets. I will say that we did not expect a complete 20-percent appreciation overnight, for example, simply because that would be extremely disruptive to world currency markets and to the Chinese economy. And ultimately, not surprisingly, China has got to make these decisions based on its sovereignty and its economic platform.
But we have said consistently that we believe that the RMB is undervalued, that that provides China with an unfair trade advantage, and that we expect change. The fact that they have said they are beginning that process is positive. And so we will continue to monitor and verify how rapidly these changes are taking place.
And I think that we will be able to track a trajectory. And if that trajectory indicates that over the course of a year the RMB has appreciated a certain amount that is more in line in economic fundamentals, then I — hopefully not only will that be good for the US economy, that will also be good for the Chinese economy and the world economy.
More broadly, just to widen out the challenges that the world economy faces, we said in Pittsburgh in the G20 that it was important for us to rebalance in part because the US economy for a long period of time was the engine of world economic growth; we were sucking in imports from all across the world financed by huge amounts of consumer debt. Because of the financial crisis, but also because that debt was fundamentally unsustainable, the United States is not going to be able to serve in that same capacity to that same extent.
We are obviously still a huge part of the world economy. We are still going to be open. We are still going to be importing as well as exporting. But the economic realities are such that for us to see sustained global economic growth, all countries are going to have to be moving in some new directions.
That was acknowledged in Pittsburgh. That means that surplus countries are going to have to think about how are we spurring domestic demand. That means that emerging countries are going to have to think are we only oriented towards exports, or are we also starting to produce manufacturing goods and services for the internal market. It means that deficit countries have to start getting serious about their midterm and long-term debt and deficits. And that includes the United States of America, which is why I've got a fiscal commission that's going to be reporting to me by the end of the year.
So the point is not every country is going to respond exactly the same way, but all of us are going to have responsibilities to rebalance in ways that allow for long-term, sustained economic growth in which all countries are participating and, hopefully, the citizens of all these countries are benefiting.
Question: A question to both Presidents. You said that you discussed the situation in Kyrgyzstan. Do you share the view on the problem and what are joint ways of solving it? It’s known that Russia and US have military bases in the republic. So do you consider opportunity to involve a military contingent if the situation in Kyrgyzstan keeps deteriorating?
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: Yes, we did discuss this matter because the situation in Kyrgyzstan is serious and, unfortunately, the country is not functioning now as it should be. The country is de facto divided and civil clashes are underway, including ethnic clashes, which is especially worrying to see. Many people have been killed, and the authorities have not been able to prevent these events.
Russia and the United States both have an interest therefore in helping Kyrgyzstan to resolve these problems, protect ordinary people, ensure that basic civic rights are respected, and carry out the functions that are the state’s responsibility, including meeting the population’s basic food and material needs.
Russia is working with Kyrgyzstan’s leadership, with the country’s interim government. We realise that they still need to acquire legitimate status, but Russia considers Kyrgyzstan a strategic partner, a country close to us, and so we are ready to give this country material aid and help them to resolve the humanitarian problems they face.
We hope that the elections there will produce a full-fledged government able to address the tasks at hand. Otherwise Kyrgyzstan faces the risk of sliding downwards and perhaps, unfortunately, breaking apart. We are all worried by the possibility that such a situation could see radicals seize power in this country, and then we would be forced to deal with the same kinds of problems that we are already trying to solve in other regions, problems such as those that Afghanistan is dealing with today, for example.
We did discuss this issue. On the question of possible use of force to restore order, I think that Kyrgyzstan must resolve these problems itself. The Russian Federation has no plans to send a separate peacekeeping contingent there, although we have indeed held consultations on this matter, and I did indeed receive a request from acting President Roza Otunbayeva.
But at the same time there is quite an effective consultation mechanism within the CSTO. The secretaries of the [CSTO members’] security councils met and discussed this issue, including the question of sending peacekeepers to Kyrgyzstan. They decided that there was no need to send peacekeepers at the moment, but we realise that the situation could develop in different ways, and so the Collective Security Treaty Organisation will of course monitor and respond to these developments.
If the need arises, I, as chairman of the CSTO, can call at any moment a meeting of the secretaries of the CSTO members’ security councils, or of the presidents of the CSTO member states. We hope for the United States’ understanding too in this situation.
Barack Obama: Obviously we’re monitoring the situation very carefully. There already has been excellent coordination between the United States and the Russian Federation on delivery of humanitarian aid.
One of the things that we discussed is creating a mechanism so that the international community can ensure that we have a peaceful resolution of the situation there, and that any actions that are taken to protect civilians are done so not under the flag of any particular country, but that the international community is stepping in.
And so our teams will be in continuing discussions in the weeks ahead as we monitor the situation as it unfolds.
All right. Thank you very much, everybody.