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Official website of the President of Russia

Transcripts   /

News Conference Following the Russian-US Summit

June 4, 2000, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to start summing up two days’ work with our guests and partners, US President Bill Clinton and his team. It was very intense work and, I daresay, the Russian party cannot but feel satisfied both with the spirit and the quality of our negotiations, and their achievements.

As we see it, the questions we discussed were of interest not only to the United States and the Russian Federation. Those issues concerned global security and, undoubtedly, involved the interests of the entire humankind.

We had detailed discussions of everything done within recent years in that crucial field, which interests both parties. We have agreed to continue our team efforts in that sphere.

We discussed new global threats, such as mounting terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking. We talked about problems to which we saw one solution, while our US colleagues insisted on others.

We also exchanged opinions on matters to which we had different approaches.

All those talks were very outspoken and to the point.

As you know, the US President and I have signed a number of documents, including a statement on security issues, which say and determine a great deal.

As I see it, our principal achievement was in not only confirming the high level of our relations but also fixing the development trend of US-Russian relations for the near future.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this connection I would like to point out the following: Russian-US relations have lately being going through some ups and downs, including last year. There were some disagreements. However, the high level attained through the efforts of the Russian leadership and the US Administration within these eight years have always given us a honourable way out of those crises. We always work not merely to restore our relations but to settle disputes. We believe this is very important.

I am happy to repeat that we see in those complex areas a desire not only to speak up but to come to joint decisions.

We also discussed matters concerning bilateral economic relations. As I want to point out in this connection at once, the Russian Federation, through myself, and through the Government (Prime Minister Mr Kasyanov and the leading ministers who took part in the talks), not only informed our US colleagues about the current economic situation in Russia but discussed with our partners team efforts in bilateral relations and within the framework of international organisations, including financial ones.

I want to say at once that Russia not merely intends to carry on its market reforms, as we have said on many occasions, but to make the most resolute practical action. I mean promoting the Tax Code and the production-sharing agreement. There are certain issues here that we have not been able to resolve with the State Duma yet.

As we see it, those are rather technical issues, and we will continue working with State Duma members to pass those bills.

We talked about the nearest international events. These are a meeting of heads of state in Okinawa, the UN Millennium Summit in New York, and a meeting in Brunei. Thus, Mr Clinton and I have agreed to continue working on a number of problems, which we discussed yesterday and today, and which we have an opportunity also to discuss in an eye-to-eye talk tomorrow. These problems will be on the agenda of our nearest meetings, which I have just now mentioned.

I want to thank the US delegation on behalf of the Russian leadership not only for accepting our invitation to come to Russia but also for a very constructive and businesslike approach to discussing and settling the issues we were debating.

Thank you.

Bill Clinton: I would like to first thank President Putin and the Russian delegation for making us feel welcome and for these talks.

I have come to Moscow at an important time. Russia, after all, has a new President, new government, new Duma. Its economy is showing encouraging signs of growth. This gives Russia a pivotal opportunity to build on the strong record of engagement between our two countries. It is also an opportunity for the United States.

I welcome President Putin's interest in building a Russia that enjoys the enduring strength of a stable democracy. President Yeltsin led Russia to freedom. Under President Putin, Russia has the chance to build prosperity and strength, while safeguarding that freedom and the rule of law.

We've had good discussions both last night and today on a range of common interests, including non-proliferation and arms control. We expressed our differences with clarity and candor. And I, for one, appreciate that. The importance of this relationship to ourselves and the world demands that we take every opportunity we can to find common ground and that, where we cannot find it, we express our differences with clarity and candor.

I congratulated President Putin on the key role he played in the Duma's ratification of START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The United States ratified START II first, and I hope we will now follow Russia in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. I also look forward to the ratification of the START II protocols by our Senate so that we can get about the business of further reducing the number of nuclear missiles that we have.

I am very pleased today we agreed on two other major steps to reduce the nuclear danger. We reached an important agreement each to destroy 34 tons of military-grade plutonium, enough to make thousands of warheads. This raw weapon material will now never fall into the wrong hands.

We also agreed to establish a joint data exchange center in Moscow to share early warning information on missile and space launches. This is terribly important. It is the first permanent U.S.-Russia military operation ever.

In this new center, Russian and American military officials will be working side by side, 24 hours a day, to monitor missile warning information. It is a milestone in enhancing strategic stability, and I welcome it.

The President and I also discussed our common commitment to prevent the proliferation of missile technology and our determination to exert firm control over exports of sensitive technology and strictly enforce export control laws and regulations.

We discussed our common interest in commercial space cooperation, including the successful joint venture that launches commercial satellites. We agreed that our teams would soon meet to discuss future cooperation in the commercial space area, with the aim of moving toward eliminating existing constraints on commercial space launches.

We also had a thorough discussion of our work on the START III treaty and the issue of national missile defense. We have agreed to a statement of principles, which I urge you to read carefully. It makes clear that there is an emerging ballistic missile threat that must be addressed, though we have not yet agreed on how best to do so.

We have acknowledged that the ABM Treaty foresees the possibility of changes in the strategic environment that might require it to be updated. We have reaffirmed our commitment to pursue further reduction in offensive arms in parallel with our discussions on defence systems, underscoring the importance of the doctrines of strategic stability and mutual deterrence as the foundation for this work.

We've asked our experts to keep working to narrow the differences and to develop a series of cooperative measures to address the missile threat. And we have agreed that we will continue to discuss it in our next meeting.

We spent a large share of our time discussing economics. I'm encouraged by the economic plan President Putin has outlined and by the current recovery. I look forward to Russia's continuing to implement proposed reforms that will actually make the recovery last, reforms such as tax reform, anti-money-laundering legislation, strong property rights protections.

I look forward to Russia's successful negotiations with the IMF. This is a good economic team with a very good opportunity to increase investment in Russia, both the return of money that Russians have placed outside the country and new investments from other countries.

Later this month, our former Ambassador to Moscow, Bob Strauss, will come to Russia with a delegation of investors, including some of America's best-known chief executive officers, to discuss opportunities in Russia and the steps Russia is taking to improve its investment climate. I think this will be only the beginning of a very successful effort at economic reform, if the intentions that President Putin outlined become reality.

The President and I also discussed another area where we disagree, Chechnya. I have restated the opposition that I have to a policy which is well-known. Essentially, I believe a policy that causes so many civilian casualties without a political solution ultimately cannot succeed. I also urged President Putin to move forward with transparent and impartial investigations of the stories of human rights violations and to authorise a speedy return of the OSCE to the region.

Finally, I stressed to President Putin the importance the United States places on protecting religious freedom and the rights of an independent media. I strongly agree with what President Putin himself has said, that Russia has no future if it suppresses civic freedoms and the press.

We agreed to advance our technical cooperation on climate change. We believe it's essential to complete work on the Kyoto Protocol, including market mechanisms, to protect the environment, promote clean energy, and reduce costs. I think Russia has a great economic opportunity here as well as a great environmental one.

And on these issues, the President and I are asking the U.S.-Russia binational commission, under the leadership of Vice President Gore and Prime Minister Kasyanov, to carry forward the work.

I was encouraged by our discussion, pleased with our agreements, pleased with the candor and clarity of our disagreements. I am eager for more progress. I'm also looking forward to the chance to talk to the Russian people tonight in a radio talk show, and tomorrow, as I have the opportunity to speak to the Duma and the Federation Council.

Again, Mr. President, I thank you for this and especially for these two agreements, and I look forward to our continued work together.

MAYAK radio station: A question to the President of Russia. What priority do you give to Russian-US relations in a changing world that, as we know, is continuously reshaping? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: The history of relations between the former Soviet Union and the United States, and between Russia and the United States contains, as I have said, many dramatic and very positive elements. We were allies, and there was a time of confrontation between us. We hope the worst period in our relations is long past.

Today, the United States is among our principal partners. As for Russia, it will never make a choice in favour of confrontation in its relations with the United States.

We are determined to work together. We are determined to come to an accord on all problems that may arise. Certainly, there are such problems, as there were in the past, and some may appear in the future. But that is not what matters. What truly matters is that there can be only one approach to settling such problems. It is not to bring us to destroy our latest positive achievements. It must be a future-oriented approach. As you see, the Russian leadership and the US Administration and President share that determination. These are the principles we will follow.

Associated Press: A question to the US President. Mr President, do you see the chance that the United States would exercise its option to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty if it is not possible to negotiate changes to permit a national missile defense? And was this possibility raised in your discussions with President Putin?

Bill Clinton: Well, first of all, I have not made a decision on the national missile defense stage one. It is premature. The statement of principles that we have agreed to I thought reflected an attempt to bring our positions closer together. I do not believe the decision before me is a threat to strategic stability and mutual deterrence. The Russian side disagrees. But we had a lot of agreement here.

And again, let me say, I urge you all to read that. I do not want the United States to withdraw from the ABM regime because, I think, it has contributed to a more stable, more peaceful world. It has already been amended once, and its framers understood that circumstances might change and threats might arise which were outside the context of U.S.-now Russian relations. We acknowledge that there is a threat. It needs to be met, and we're trying to bridge our differences. And I think that's where we ought to leave it.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: A question to the US President. Mr President, how do you feel about Russia’s proposal on continuing to reduce the number of warheads down to 1,500 warheads as part of START III? Thank you.

Bill Clinton: Well, we had previously agreed to a range of 2,000 to 2,500 on START III. If we were to come down below that, it would require us to change our strategic plan. And we believe it would be much better if we were going to do that, if we could also know that we were defending ourselves against a new threat, which we believe is real. So we will continue to discuss all these things.

Let me say, I am certain – I am eager to get down to the START II levels, and I am eager to go below the START II levels, but I also want to try to solve the new threat, as well. And I will do whatever I can to achieve both objectives.

Reuters: This is for both Presidents. Now that you have met together as Presidents, how would you describe each other's personalities and leadership qualities? And how do you see them affecting relations between the two countries? And in particular, President Clinton, are you any more or less assured about the future of democracy in Russia following your meetings today?

Vladimir Putin: As you know, this is not my first meeting with President Clinton. He has been leading one of the world’s mightiest countries for almost eight years. He is an experienced politician. I consider the relations that have taken shape between us as very good professional contacts and friendly personal ties. To me, President Clinton is a very agreeable partner in talks.

If everyone follows President Clinton’s example in not seeking deadlocks but ways along which progress can be made, I think success awaits us in our future contacts with the United States.

Look at the ABM Treaty. There are many problems there. We wrote down in the statement we have just now referred to, a pivotal principle – preservation of this treaty as the cornerstone of maintaining security.

At the same time, we share a starting point from which new threats may emerge. We do not want a remedy that would be more dangerous than the disease. As we understand, there are ways, and there is a basis, on which we can solve that issue, however involved and sensitive it might appear.

I repeat: we know that an election campaign is on in the United States now, and we know the programmes of the two principal candidates. Those programmes point out the necessity to positively develop relations with Russia. We will be very pleased if those programmes are implemented, if the relay baton President Clinton passes to his successor at the end of the year, whoever the next president might be, is accepted.

Thank you.

Bill Clinton: Well, let me say first, I think President Putin has an enormous opportunity and a great challenge. If you want to know what my personal assessment is, I think he is fully capable of building a prosperous, strong Russia, while preserving freedom and pluralism and the rule of law. It's a big challenge. I think he is fully capable of doing it.

And I want to use the time I have remaining as President not only to further the interests of the United States in meeting our national security threat but also to further our interest in having a good, stable relationship with a Russia that is strong and prosperous and free, respecting pluralism and the rule of law. That's what I'm trying to do. I think he is fully capable of achieving that. And I'm encouraged by the first 2 days of our really serious work.

June 4, 2000, The Kremlin, Moscow