Availability with President Vladimir Putin
St. Petersburg, Russia
June 1, 2003
10:07 A.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT PUTIN: We've just signed and exchanged instruments of ratification
of the Russian-U.S. treaty on strategic reductions. The treaty has come into
force. Yet again, we've demonstrated that the United States and Russia are
two champions of the mutually advantageous cooperation on the basis of partnership,
openness, and transparency.
Such a declaration is also conducive to greater strategic stability and
international security. Having committed themselves to reduce their strategic
capabilities by a factor of three, our two countries reiterated that they
continue on the course of strategic reduction and improvement of stability.
The strategic reduction treaty also improves the regime of nonproliferation.
And this is all the more appropriate in the context of the fight against
international terrorism, the terrorists who are trying to acquire all kinds
of weapons security, including weapons of mass destruction, to pursue their
goals. We now must work on the implementation of that treaty.
The bilateral implementation commission will be established. The already
existing bilateral mechanism between Russia and the United States will continue
their work on the widest possible agenda of interaction, including strategic
weapons, nonproliferation and missile defense. The role of instructions have
been made to our experts of the two countries in accordance with the joint
statements reached between the two countries on new and continued strategic
Our meeting between the President of the United States and myself is taking
place at a very crucial juncture of the development of the world, where very
dangerous and complex events develop. This current summit meeting yet again
confirmed the fact that there is no alternative for the cooperation between
Russia and the United States, both in terms of ensuring our domestic national
agendas and in terms of cooperation for the sake of enhanced international
We agreed with the President to continue our efforts in terms of enhancing
international stability, fight against terrorism, and ensuring better strategic
stability. We also agreed to continue our bilateral cooperation in the area
of economy and other fields.
Of course, we are aware of the questions being raised as to whether the
relations between the United States and Russia will withstand the test of
time. Today, we reiterated, together with President Bush, our resolve to
continue with our strategic partnership for the benefit of our nations and
the entire world. I must say that the fundamentals between the United States
and Russia turned out to be stronger than the forces and events that tested
President Bush and I formulated instructions that cover the specific and
practical aspects of furtherance of the dialogue in all areas of our comprehensive
agenda. We agreed to expand our communication channels, including through
our presidential administrations and other agencies. We also discussed economic
issues. Our experts are in contact while discussing these issues and we will
facilitate such contacts and discussions.
The task here is quite clear. What we want is to create a solid economic
basis for the continued political dialogue and cooperation. We discussed
the need to improve and establish an appropriate investment climate, and
improve our cooperation in the international organizations, including economic
organizations. Space remains the vital part of our cooperation, and we have
confirmed this fact in our joint statement.
Summing up, I would like to stress that the relations between the United
States and Russia is not an isolated, but global political event and phenomenon.
It is important that this cooperation serves bringing together the world
community in the face of global threats. And in conclusion, I would like
to say that the nature of our conversation was quite frank and quite informative
I would like to thank President Bush for coming to Russia and to St. Petersburg,
especially in these festive days in St. Petersburg. For me, personally, this
is a special sign and I am very appreciative of that. Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm honored to be here, Mr. President, and I'm honored to
be with my good friend, Vladimir Putin. This is the third time I've been
to this beautiful city, and I want to congratulate you on a successful 300th
Last night's celebrations were fantastic. It was a beautiful evening. Today
we mark an important achievement in the relations between the United States
and Russia. President Putin and I have just exchanged instruments of the
ratification for the Treaty of Moscow, which will reduce both our nuclear
arsenals to the lowest level in decades. This treaty reflects the new strategic
relationship that is emerging between our nations.
This treaty was founded on mutual respect and a common commitment to a more
secure world. We are working closely to confront the challenges of our time.
Both of our countries have suffered greatly at the hands of terror, and our
governments are taking actions against this threat.
We are going to win the war on terror by cooperation, as well as providing
security and hope for innocent people. That's why I support the goals of
ending the fighting and suffering in Chechnya and reaching a lasting political
settlement in that region.
The United States and Russia are also determined to meet the threat posed
by weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. We strongly
urge North Korea to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear
weapons program. We are concerned about Iran's advanced nuclear program and
urge Iran to comply in full with its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation
President Putin and I intend to strengthen our own cooperation on missile
defense, which is essential to the security of both our nations. The United
States appreciates Russia's recent support for lifting U.N. sanctions on
Iraq, and we both agreed that the United Nations must play a vital role in
Iraq's reconstruction. We discussed ways we can work together to help build
a better future for the people of Iraq.
President Putin and I also discussed the growing economic relationship between
our countries. And these ties will expand significantly as Russia opens to
the world economy and qualifies for membership in the World Trade Organization.
I assured the President that I will continue to work with Congress and firmly
committed to remove Russia from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
The United States and Russia are working together to ensure that Russia's
energy sector can fulfill its potential in world energy markets.
Our relationship is broad. We greatly appreciate Russia's support of the
International Space Station following the loss of our space shuttle Columbia.
We are committed to continue to work together for the good of the world.
President Putin and I have agreed to expand and strengthen high-level contacts
and communications between our two governments. I invited the President to
come to the United States for a visit in September to visit at Camp David.
In a recent address to the Russian Duma, President Putin committed to working
for a sustainable democracy in Russia where human, political, and civil rights
will be fully ensured. That is the vision of a strong leader. With that vision,
there's no question in my mind that Russia will fulfill its potential for
greatness. And as you do so, Mr. President, you'll have the friendship of
the United States. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Two questions on each side. The first question goes to the U.S.
QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. President, are there any new developments in the search
for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Have any actual weapons been found?
And to both of you leaders, can you say, do you see eye-to-eye on Iraq now,
and its oil?
PRESIDENT BUSH: The first part of your question is that -- is whether or
not the weapons of mass destruction question. Here's what -- we've discovered
a weapons system, biological labs, that Iraq denied she had, and labs that
were prohibited under the U.N. resolutions.
Vladimir can speak to the issue of the future of Iraq, at least his opinion
of the future. But my opinion is, is that we must work together to improve
the lives of the Iraqi citizens, that we must cooperate closely to make sure
that the Iraqi infrastructure is in place so that the Iraqi citizens can
And as to the energy sector, the Iraqi people will make the decision which
is in their best interest. Russia has had a long history of involvement in
Iraq, and the Iraqi authorities, when they are firmly in place, will make
the decision based upon that experience and based upon their country's best
PRESIDENT PUTIN: As you are aware, Russia has voted in favor of the latest
U.N. resolution on Iraq. It didn't abstain, it didn't vote against it. We
view it as a serious step forward in working and practical terms on these
issues, including within the United Nations, and also, of course, together
with the United States.
I must admit, our experts worked quite well and arrived at a solution acceptable
to all. I do believe that the cooperation will continue to expand and develop,
including in the area of disarmament. But we also believe that we must go
on in our relationship. And we must also continue thinking in these terms,
also including as regards Iraq. I am in absolute solidarity with what President
Bush has said in terms of letting the people of Iraq decide their own destiny
and assisting them in achieving better and more honorable conditions of living.
Incidentally, the resolution also contains language devoted to the future
development within Iraq. Indeed, Russian companies have a wealth of experience
operating in Iraq. And we intend to continue our cooperation in this area,
with Iraq and in Iraq, and including with international community, making
available to the international community all our expertise, experience and
resources. We cannot exclude that our companies will be operational in Iraq;
it will all depend on its internal development, including within the framework
of oil-for-food program.
As for the future and the future development of investment projects, well,
indeed, this is a matter for the future and for our future cooperation with
all the international community, with our U.S. friends and, of course, with
the future authorities in Iraq.
QUESTION: First question is for two Presidents. Did the difference between Russia
and United States weaken the relationship and cooperation between the two
countries? And the question to President Bush is whether the United States
will continue to act in such a manner as it acted in Iraq, by going around
the United Nations?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first of all, I don't think we went around the United
Nations. I remind you we had what's called Resolution 1441. We worked through
the United Nations. As a matter of fact, I think this experience will make
our relationship stronger, not weaker. As we go forward, we will show the
world that friends can disagree, move beyond disagreement and work in a very
constructive and important way to maintain the peace.
PRESIDENT PUTIN: Strange and it may sound, but during despite all the differences
between our two countries around Iraq, we did not only manage to preserve
and maintain our personal relationship, but also to preserve our mutual cooperation
and interaction between our two countries, and even strengthen it.
Given all the difficulty of the situation, we were trying to tread very
carefully and to cherish and preserve both international aspect to our cooperation
and personal aspect to our interaction and contacts. I saw it done by President
Bush in a very extremely professional manner with great respect of the opinion
of the others. I was trying to do the same. And today's meeting is a proof
of the fact that we have succeeded in that.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you mentioned the Iranian nuclear program. Were you able
to persuade President Putin to stop assistance to Iran's nuclear program,
and how big a threat is Iran?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Russia and the United States have mutual concerns about
the advanced Iranian nuclear program. We understand the consequences of Iran
having a nuclear weapon. And therefore, we want to work together, as well
as with the IAEA, to insist that they not have a nuclear weapon. And I appreciate
Vladimir Putin's understanding of the issue and his willingness to work with
me and others to solve this potential problem.
PRESIDENT PUTIN: I'll add a few words if I may.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Sure.
PRESIDENT PUTIN: The positions of Russia and the United States on the issue
are much closer than they seem. We need no convincing about the fact that
the weapons of mass destruction proliferation should be checked and prevented
throughout the world. It is true not only with regard to Iran, but also with
regard to other regions of the world. We have full understanding on this
with President Bush, similar to our mutual understanding of many other international
We have many points of coincidence of our views on many issues. And it is
precisely these things that enable me to call President Bush my friend, not
only personally because personally I do like him a lot but as my counterpart
and the President of a friendly nation.
To repeat, we have many points on which we see eye-to-eye on many aspects
of international development. As for Iran and I repeated that during today's
meeting and discussion -- we are against using the pretext of nuclear weapon
program of Iran as a leverage in as an instrument of unfair competition against
us. And we will continue working together with all, including the United
States, with the view to preventing proliferation of the weapons of mass
destruction anywhere in the world, including, of course, in Iran.
QUESTION: First of all, this is a question directed to President Putin. Do you believe
that there are any questions that remain that are irresolvable? And what
can we do more together, more cooperatively, in international way, to combat
PRESIDENT PUTIN: I don't even think that we have ever had any insurmountable
problems that cannot be overcome. There are always problems. They become
more or less visible or obvious; much depends on us as to how we address
those problems and issues. The most important thing is the presence or absence
of a will to address those. President Bush and I do have such a will. And
we will do our best to achieve such a state where the points of coincidence
would grow in number, and we will have fewer points of divergence and problems
and issues of content. And this trend will become even more efficient and
effective should we have assistance and a helping hand from the mass media.