July 22, 2001
Genoa, Italy

Press Conference by President Bush and President Putin

The following is the transcript of a press conference held by President Bush and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Genoa, Italy, on Sunday.

PRESIDENT PUTIN: Thank you. Now, as far as possible answer or response, as you say, from Russia, in the event that one side leaves the ABM Treaty, from the 1972 treaty, then I can say the following. We were talking about the possible kinds and versions of response in the event that one side comes out unilaterally. I was not talking about increasing the missiles. I was talking about how you would substitute single-unit warheads, make them MIRV warheads.

But, as we said today -- if, as we said today and, if, as we understood from each other today, we are ready to look at the issue of offensive and defensive systems together as a set, we might not ever need to look at that option. But this is one of the subjects of our future discussions.

As a whole we agreed, in general, that in any version, today we can go forward toward reducing offensive arms. I'm telling you this with full responsibility and I'm telling you that within -- this is an issue of the qualitative and quantitative numbers. But this is, of course -- we'll let the specialists sit down and talk about those numbers.

Q: A question to both Presidents. Please tell us how you assess the Genoa summit results from the point of view of the future G8s, because you've got all these anti-globalists demonstrators and others.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I'm looking forward to future G8 summits. People should be allowed to protest in a peaceful way. The great thing about freedom is, it provides an outlet for people to express their differences.

Having said that, I believe that which we discussed today and the last couple of days will make the world a heck of a lot more prosperous and peaceful place. The philosophy of free trade and starting a new round of free trade discussions makes eminent sense, not only for those who happen to be prosperous today, but for those who aren't.

And all the demonstrators and all the folks have to do is ask the leaders who came from the developing nations. Ask my friend from El Salvador what trade means to him. And so I reiterate what I said before. People are allowed to protest, but for those who claim they're speaking on behalf of the poor, for those who claim that shutting down trade will benefit the poor, they're dead wrong.

PRESIDENT PUTIN: I have to tell you that the people who are out on the streets, then talked about the issues of the poor countries and their problems, and those who gathered within the framework of the 8 were all taken by one and the same series of issues. In this sense, we can say that we're all of the same mind. But unlike those who chose these extremist ways of expressing their minds, those who worked here tried to find solutions, ways to get to the end solution -- specific kinds of solutions, which realistically could affect, I hope, will affect the condition in which the very poorest countries are living in the world today.

That's why I very highly praise the results, the level and the nature and the character of these discussions. I think we need these kinds of meetings, and I think they will be, they will continue. Naturally, we're going to have to pay more attention to the quality of the kinds of decisions that we take and how to implement them fully to the end.

Now, as far as the dialogue with civil society, one of the fora and one of the ways of discussing is in a civilized fashion. We can only -- and one of the ways of doing it is holding the international conference in Moscow in 2003 and talking about the environment. Thank you.

Q: Mr. President, I understand that currency issues were discussed at the leaders summit. I'm wondering, how did you explain the benefits of a strong dollar, since you've already acknowledged that it hurts U.S. exporters, and over here it's putting inflationary pressure on the ECB and stopping them from cutting interest rates?

And, President Putin, I'm just wondering how does a strong dollar affect your economy? Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, let me reiterate what I said after my World Bank speech. The dollar needs to float in the marketplace, and that the dollar -- if the market is allowed to function, the dollar will be at an appropriate level. And there are both, obviously, there are some that want us to artificially -- the dollar in our country, and that's not the role, in my judgment, of the country. The market ought to do that, not the nation.

And so I continued to assure my friends and allies that we will let the market adjust. I also assured them that we were taking the steps necessary within our country to strengthen our economy.

I was able to herald the fact that the first rebate checks made it into the mail, and I heralded it from a remote location, here in Genoa. And the reason I bring that up is that many of the world leaders are deeply concerned about the slowdown of the U.S. economy and its effect not only on the dollar, but also the effect on trade. And I assured them that from a fiscal perspective, one, we're going to hold the line on spending, that we had a budget and I expect Congress to meet the budget; secondly, that we did reduce taxes substantially and the first wave of tax relief was in the mail; and, thirdly, that our Fed, independent of the government, was making the monetary decisions. And I think people were pleased to hear that we're working hard to revitalize our economy.

PRESIDENT PUTIN: The United States is the main trade and economic partner for Russia. And this is the main investor in Russia, of all the investors and one of the main economic and trade partners. So the stability of the U.S. economy substantially affects our economic situation.

As you know, over the last year in Russia, we've noticed certain positive trends, and there is no doubt in our minds that we're interested in the stability of the U.S. economy as a whole and their currency. The dollar for us is the most important --the main form of payment in most of our operations. Thank you.

Q: Which regional conflicts, in your estimation, are the greatest threat to international security? What were the results when you discussed these issues at the G8? And what jointly could U.S. and Russia do in this arena?

PRESIDENT PUTIN: Well, of course, these are the Balkans and the Middle East, above all. I have to say that I'm satisfied by the nature of the results of this discussion. But it seems to me that this time we heard each other much more, much better, understand each positions much better in all these conflict areas.

And what's important -- I don't know if my colleague will agree with me, but I get the feeling that trust in each other, within the framework of trying to settle these issues is beginning to arrive. This is very important foundation, trust. So we're going to continue coordinating our efforts both in the Balkans and the Middle East, taking into account the interest of all the parties that are drawn into this conflict.

And on the way toward coordinating our efforts, we have to work out unified approaches. And this, here lies the success. This is very important. Because if we create some kind of cracks or fissures through which you can have leakage of certain extremist forces, it's going to wreck the whole process. So here, getting together, drawing together, here was very positive and a positive nature. Thank you.

Q: Thank you, sir. Mr. President, President Chirac and Prime Minister Chretien both say that you promised to have a global warming package ready for the Marrakesh meeting in September. Your staff says that that's not quite true. Who is right, sir? What exactly did you tell the leaders?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, given the room temperature here I'm not surprised you brought up the subject of warming. (Laughter) So I'll try to keep my answer short, for the benefit of all, particularly those of us who must do something in Rome.

Here's what I said. I said my administration has had a full-scale review of the climate issue; that we're in the process of developing a strategy as quickly as we possibly can and one that we look forward to sharing with our friends and allies. A strategy that begins with the notion that we want to reduce greenhouse gasses in America. A strategy, also, that takes a realistic look at how best to do so, a look based upon science and a look with a notion that we can have economic growth and sound environmental policy.

I made it clear to our friends and allies that the methodology of the current protocol is one that, if implemented, would severely affect economic growth in America, and that I believe that it makes sense for those who trade with us to make sure that our environmental policy is one that continues to stimulate economic activity so that trade means something between nations.

The spirit of our dialogue was very positive. I guess you could say that I broke the ice during my last trip to Europe, so people understood exactly where I was coming from. There should be no doubt in their mind about our position -- that we share the goal, but we believe that, strongly believe that we need to find a methodology of achieving the goal that won't wreck the U.S. economy.

And we're making progress on that. I'm very confident that the leaders appreciated my straightforwardness the last time I came to Europe and my willingness to continue to dialogue on this very important issue.

We have a representative at the Bonn summit. I saw her on TV the other day; she made the case very clearly -- Paula made the case very clearly about what our position is. And the Europeans are interested in the strategy that we're going to adopt. And when it's formulated I will present it to them. And I look forward to doing that. And they're going to find out that when I say we're interested in reducing greenhouse gasses that we mean it.

They're also going to be pleased to hear that it's going to be in such a way that won't damage their largest trading partner. And so will the American people, who want to make sure that there's work and jobs available.

With that, I want to, again, thank my friend. I look forward to future dialogue. Thank you all very much for your questions. And again, we thank the good people of Italy for their kind hospitality.

PRESIDENT PUTIN: Thank you very much.

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