Beginning of Meeting with British Prime Minister Anthony Blair 2005-06-13 20:48:51 Novo-Ogaryovo President Vladimir Putin: Mr. Prime Minister, let me once again wish you a warm welcome to Moscow. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the successful election campaign. I would also like to express the hope that the good relations that have been established in recent years between the Russian Federation and Great Britain will not undergo any significant changes, and that on the contrary, we will develop our contacts in all directions. This year Great Britain is heading both the G-8 and the European Union. We give enormous importance to the development of relations on a bilateral basis, and within these organisations. We expect that Great Britain will also support us in our presidency of the G-8 next year. We are prepared to make use of your experience and advice. By this I mean that you have long been a member of this group and have good experience of interaction with all the colleagues. And of course, our relations with the European Union are extremely important for us. Recently noticeable progress has been reached between Russia and the European Union, and we expect that during your presidency we will only strengthen our relations with Europe. Anthony Blair (translation from Russian): Thank you very much. Thank you also for the warm reception that I was shown here. I am particularly grateful that we can meet in a more relaxed, informal atmosphere for our talks. As you correctly noted, this year Great Britain will hold the presidency both of the European Union and the G-8. Naturally, I am eager to have the opportunity to discuss issues with you not only relating to the current presidency of Britain in the G-8 this year, but also relating to Russia’s presidency next year, which I am sure will be very successful. I would also like to work more closely with you to ensure the successful outcome of your upcoming presidency in the G-8. Additionally, Britain will also hold the presidency in the European Union, at a time which is quite interesting for Europe. I hope that a significant part of our efforts as the President of the European Union will be specifically devoted to the development of relations between the EU and Russia. In conclusion I would like to say that I am very glad to have this opportunity – to discuss all the bilateral issues and relations between Russia and Great Britain in order to determine how these already good relations can be further strengthened and developed.