Beginning of the Meeting with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende 2007-11-06 15:33:26 The Kremlin, Moscow President Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr Prime Minister, I am very happy to see you in Moscow. I remember very well how warmly you welcomed us to your country. And I would like to note that recently our relations have developed very intensively. Measured by the volume of trade and economic ties, the Netherlands is Russia’s second largest trade and economic partner. This year our volume of trade will probably exceed 42 billion dollars. The Netherlands also hold second place with regards to investments made in Russia – they total 34 billion dollars. We have many common interests and opinions on international issues. I am confident that we will have the opportunity to talk about all these problems, reach agreements, and clarify our positions on issues where our views might differ. In general, we are satisfied with the nature of relations between our countries. They are relations between open partners, between trusting partners. We are very glad to see you in Moscow, Mr Prime Minister. Prime Minister of the Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende: Mr President, first and foremost please let me thank you for your hospitality. I am pleased and glad to be back in Moscow. And I certainly retain pleasant memories of our meetings with you in St Petersburg and of being in Moscow for the celebrations commemorating the end of the Second World War. I also have wonderful memories of your state visit in November 2005 to the Netherlands. And for the Netherlands both your visit and your interest really does have great importance. I would also like to express my condolences concerning the tragic events that occurred in the Tula Region, where more than 30 people were killed by a fire in a home for the elderly. It is true that the developments that are taking place in Russia allow us to say that Russia is becoming an important player on the world stage and we highly value our cooperation. And in connection with this I would like to emphasize that the bilateral relations between our countries continue to develop and have a positive dynamic. This does not only refer to our economic relations but I would especially like to emphasize our mutual investment projects. I look forward to passing some time with you soon and discussing many other problems. And I would like to express my agreement with your claim and say that, indeed, our countries have open relations, an open partnership and – I would like to emphasize this again – this refers to economic relations and our discussions of various civil issues. And I hope that in the future we will continue to develop in the same direction. Allow me to thank you once again for taking the time to meet with us.