Excerpt
Click here for the full text.
 Brdo Castle, 
Brdo Pri Kranju, Slovenia
                                                                 June 16, 2001

 
Press Conference by President Bush
and Russian Federation President Putin 

 
                 PRESIDENT BUSH:  Good afternoon.  President Putin and I have just
                 concluded two hours of straightforward and productive meetings.  We had a
                 good discussion of our views of Russian-American relations, and of the
                 changing world at the beginnings of this new century. 

                      Our countries have common interests and we share responsibilities.  My
                 meeting with President Putin today is an important step in building a
                 constructive, respectful relationship with Russia -- a relationship that has the
                 potential to benefit not only our two countries, but also the world. 

                      Russia is an important country, with vast potential.  When Russia and the
                 United States work together in a constructive way, we can make the world a
                 safer and more prosperous place. (...)

                      More than a decade after the Cold War ended it is time to move beyond
                 suspicion and towards straight talk; beyond mutually assured destruction and
                 toward mutually earned respect.  As we work together to address the world as
                 it is, not as it used to be, it is important that we not only talk differently, we also
                 must act differently. 

                     We have great opportunities to cooperate on economic, commercial,
                 regional and security issues.  President Putin and I have agreed to launch an
                 extensive dialogue about a wide range of issues that we can constructively
                 address together.  We also discussed the importance of sound investment
                 climate to improve Russia's future economic prosperity. (...)

                     And we've agreed to launch regular detailed and serious consultations on the
                 nature of our security relationship.  I said to President Putin that we need a new
                 approach for a new era, an approach that protects both our peoples and
                 strengthens deterrence by exploring and developing our new attitudes towards
                 defenses and missile defenses.  I've directed Secretary of State Powell and
                 Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to work with their Russian counterparts, to
                 begin discussing a new security framework. 

                      I have invited President Putin to Washington this fall.  He accepted.   He
                 invited me to Russia, and I accepted.  And I look forward to the visit. 

                      We also agreed to continue our cooperation and work toward common
                 solutions on important regional issues, from the Balkans to Nagorno-Karabakh
                 to Afghanistan.  And we discussed our common interest in developing the
                 energy resources of the Caspian Basin in a way that benefits all the countries of
                 the region. 

                      Respectful relations require honesty.  And we did discuss areas where my
                 country has differences with Russia -- over Chechnya, and over media
                 relations.  I also expressed my hope that Russia will develop constructive
                 relations with its neighbors, like Georgia, that are trying to find their own way in
                 a challenging, but hopeful world. 

                      This was a very good meeting.  And I look forward to my next meeting with
                 President Putin in July.  I very much enjoyed our time together.  He's an honest,
                 straightforward man who loves his country.  He loves his family.  We share a lot
                 of values.  I view him as a remarkable leader.  I believe his leadership will serve
                 Russia well.  Russia and America have the opportunity to accomplish much
                 together; we should seize it.  And today, we have begun. (...)
 

                      PRESIDENT PUTIN:  First of all, I wanted to confirm everything that's
                 been said by President Bush when he characterized our meeting.  I could even
                 add that I was counting on an open, frank dialogue, confidential dialogue.  But
                 in this regard, as they say in cases like this, reality was a lot bigger than
                 expectations.  Because this was not only a confidential discussion, but all the
                 way to more than what you could expect from frankness, because President
                 Bush, as a person who has studied history, proposed a very global, wide-scale
                 approach and view to history.  And it was very interesting and positive. (...) 
                 We're counting on a pragmatic relationship between Russia and the United States. 

                      We compared our approaches in key areas.  And, once again, we
                 established our common ground.  I want to return now to what the President
                 said very recently -- that Russia and the United States are not enemies, they do
                 not threaten each other, and they could be fully good allies.  And taking into
                 account the fact that the United States and the Russian Federation, as no one
                 else, as no other country of the world, have accumulated huge amounts of
                 nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, we bear a special responsibility
                 for maintaining the common peace and security in the world, for building a new
                 architecture of security in the world. 

                      All of this presupposes a very close cooperation for strengthening security in
                 the 21st century.  And saying this, any unilateral actions can only make more
                 complicated various problems and issues. 

                      One of the central topics of our discussion was the strengthening of strategic
                 stability.  We exchanged our views on our approaches.  It was very important
                 for me to hear how and what the President of the United States thinks, and to
                 hear directly from him. 

                      In turn, naturally, I expressed the approaches of Russia in this sphere.  The
                 differences in approaches do exist and, naturally, in one short moment it's
                 impossible to overcome all of them.  But I am convinced that ahead of us we
                 have a constructive dialogue and the will to talk about these topics, to discuss,
                 to hear, to listen -- to listen and to hear each other.  And to my mind, this is
                 very important. 

                      The President and I have agreed that we're going to tell our Ministers of
                 Defense, Secretaries of Defense, Foreign Ministers, to continue in this vein, to
                 continue this discussion, without any pauses. 

                      Of course, we discussed some very difficult regional issues -- the Near East
                 and Afghanistan and the Balkans.  I have to say that this discussion showed that
                 the differences in our approaches in the very fundamental areas are much less
                 than that which unites us.  The differences in our positions, positions of the two
                 countries, really are not of a fundamental nature, a global nature, something
                 which cannot be solved -- not at all.  I think that it would be very incorrect for
                 us to start forcing out issues and arguments, and not take into account the very
                 fundamental, main concepts and issues in our relationship, which are the basis
                 and the whole foundation of the relationship between the Russian Federation
                 and the United States of America. 

                      The President and I are united in saying that the economic ties between our
                 two countries do not correspond to the potential of our two countries.  The
                 government of the Russian Federation, businessmen of both countries and the
                 U.S. administration of course can do a lot more to support the effectiveness of
                 our economic ties.  And the President expressed that we need an additional
                 impulse from our businessmen, that we will do everything possible to receive a
                 very high-level business delegation of the United States to Russia; moreover,
                 especially if it is headed by one of the senior officials of the U.S. administration. 

                      Here there are a lot of very specific issues.  We talked about energy
                 resources; we talked about using the Caspian Basin.  You know, very soon the
                 new pipeline system is going to go into effect, which is going to be transporting
                 energy resources from the Caspian region through Novie Russkie.  And this is a
                 joint project of two companies, Russian and American companies.  I'm sure
                 that this will not be the last such project. 

                      I want to stress here that the issues that were discussed at Ljubljana are
                 going to be the subject of our continuing dialogue.  And we really, in fact, did
                 agree that we're going to talk in Genoa, we're going to talk in Shanghai at the
                 APEC Conference. And I'm very grateful to the President of the United States
                 for inviting me to the United States.  I would do it with great pleasure, especially
                 because he invited to have me over at his ranch.  And I'm going to receive him
                 in my own home, not just in Russia, but in my own home. 

                      And the last.  In the last few months, and at the very threshold of our
                 meeting, there was a lot of discussion about the fact the U.S.-Russian relations
                 are overburdened by problems and issues that are somehow reaching a critical
                 stage.  I think the very nature and the result of our discussion today between
                 myself and the President of the United States will put an end to all of these
                 rumors.  We see very clearly a very prospect of our relationship in the
                 future.  And we are all geared up to work in the future constructively,
                 pragmatically, and to establish very good, predictable relationship. (...)


Questions

                     Q   On the next summit in Prague, where, according to Lord Robertson,
                 enlargement will happen, and what is the Russian position on enlargement? 

                      PRESIDENT BUSH:  I went to my first NATO summit, and there appears
                 to be a uniform desire to expand NATO.  This is certainly the position of my
                 country.  But as I reminded the leaders today, that there is a process, and the
                 countries must work toward that process.  I am impressed by the progress
                 being made in this country, and we will take that under consideration when we
                 meet in Prague a year from this fall. 

                  (...)Q    A question to both of you, if I may.  President Putin, President Bush has
                 said that he's going to go forward with his missile defense plans basically with or
                 without your blessing. Are you unyielding in your opposition to his missile
                 defense plan?  Is there anything you can do to stop it? 

                      And to President Bush.  Did President Putin ease your concern at all about
                 the spread of nuclear technologies by Russia, and is this a man that Americans
                 can trust? 

                      PRESIDENT BUSH:  Yes.  Do you want to go first? 

                      PRESIDENT PUTIN:  Now, as far as the issue of antimissile defense, the
                 official position of the Russian government is known.  I don't think we need to
                 spend time to yet again declare it.  We proceed from the idea that the 1972
                 ABM Treaty is the cornerstone of the modern architecture of international
                 security.  We proceed from the premise that there are elements which unite us
                 with our partners in the United States. 

                      When we hear about things like concerns of the future and about threats
                 from the future, we do agree that together, we have to sit down and have a
                 good think about this.  But we proceed from the idea that these concerns and
                 threats are different kinds of things.  Threats have to be defined.  We have to
                 look at where they come from and then make some decisions as to how we
                 have to counter them. 

                      We feel that we can do it best together.  Based upon today's dialogue, I've
                 come to the conclusion, and the impression, that we might have a very
                 constructive development here in this arena; at least the President of the United
                 States listened carefully.  He listens to our arguments very carefully.  But I think
                 the specialists, as I have said before, have to sit down, have contact to identify
                 the overall platform that we're going to work from, and try to find a way
                 together to solve these problems. 

                      Now, as far as the issues of proliferation and nonproliferation, I have to say
                 that in our opinion, this is a topic that's very, very closely tied to the ABM
                 Treaty, because many other things are hooked onto this same string, and many
                 threshold states, when it comes to the destruction of a previous accord, can
                 only be happy and say, look, fantastic.  Yesterday, we were threshold, nobody
                 agreed -- nobody took any account of us; now, today, recognize us.  This is a
                 problem we're going to have to really think very hard about. 

                      Can we trust Russia?  I'm not going to answer that.  I could ask the very
                 same question. 

                      PRESIDENT BUSH:  I will answer the question.  I looked the man in the
                 eye.  I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.  We had a very
                 good dialogue.  I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed
                 to his country and the best interests of his country.  And I appreciated so very
                 much the frank dialogue. 

                      There was no kind of diplomatic chit-chat, trying to throw each other off
                 balance.  There was a straightforward dialogue.  And that's the beginning of a
                 very constructive relationship.  I wouldn't have invited him to my ranch if I didn't
                 trust him.  (Laughter.) 

                      Secondly, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to talk about a new
                 relationship, and we will continue these dialogues.  The basis for my discussion
                 began with this simple premise:  that Russia and the United States must establish
                 a new relationship beyond that of the old Cold War mentality.  The Cold War
                 said loud and clear that we're opponents and that we bring the peace through
                 ability for each of us to destroy each other. 

                      Friends don't destroy each other.  People who cooperate do not have a
                 basis of peace on destruction.  Our nations are confronted with new threats in
                 the 21st century.  Terror in the hands of what we call rogue nations is a
                 threat.  I expressed my concern, and so did the President, very openly, about
                 nations on his border and nations that can't stand America's freedoms
                 developing the capacity to hold each of us hostage.  And he agreed. 

                      I brought up concerns about Iran.  And I'm hesitant to put words in the
                 President's mouth, but he said he's concerned, as well -- I think that accurately
                 categorizes your position -- and we'll work together to stop the spread of
                 weapons of mass destruction.  And I believe as we go down the road that we'll
                 be able to develop a constructive relationship as to how to use our technologies
                 and research and willingness to keep the peace, in a way that makes the world
                 more peaceful. 

                      Q    This is a question to both Presidents, if you allow.  Mr. Bush, you
                 partially answered -- you talked about issues of strategic security, you talked
                 about the future.  In this connection, could you tell us anything about what you
                 talked about in the expansion of NATO?  Thank you. 

                      PRESIDENT BUSH:  -- to expand, so long as nations met their obligations
                 and fulfilled their -- met what's called the MAP process.  I said yesterday in
                 Poland, I felt like a secure border for Russia, a border with safe and friendly
                 nations, is positive.  And I expressed my government's position very
                 plainly.  And the President, of course, had a reaction, which I'm sure he'll give
                 you right now. 

                      I thought he was going to give it to you right now.  (Laughter.) 

                      PRESIDENT PUTIN:  Yes, I'm going to lay it out for you.  I'm going to lay
                 it out for you.  Look, I'm going to read to you something which was recently
                 de-classified.  Speaking for myself -- look this was printed a while back, but
                 there's a document -- attached addendum documents which were secret.  Copy
                 declassified.  It was top secret.  Look, here it is. This is a note of the Soviet
                 government from 1954, sent to the countries of NATO.  Here's what it
                 says:  The leadership, holding to its inalienable policy and taking into account all
                 the tensions, this Soviet government announces its intention to enter into
                 discussions with NATO countries about its participation in NATO, with the
                 North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 

                      And this was the answer -- look, here's the answer:  the Soviet government
                 proposed -- they were talking about the widening of the NATO pact and what
                 they're going to do about bringing the Soviet Union in. There is no need to
                 stress the completely unrealistic nature of such a proposal from the Soviet
                 Union.  That's the answer that NATO gave. 

                      So what we're talking about here, you remember about a year ago I think
                 somebody asked a question about, what's your attitude, is it possible that
                 Russia is going to join in NATO or not.  I said, why not?  And right away, Mrs.
                 Albright, former Secretary of State -- she was some place on a trip to Europe
                 -- she said, look, we're not talking about this right now. 

                      Look, you understand that our attitude toward NATO was not one toward
                 an enemy organization; of course not.  And I'm very grateful to the President of
                 the United States that finally, from the territory of the United States, these
                 words were heard.  This is very important for us.  We value this.  When a
                 President of a great power says that he wants to see Russia as a partner, and
                 maybe even as an ally, this is worth so much to us. 

                      But if that's the case, then, look, we ask ourselves a question: Look, this is a
                 military organization.  Yes, it's military.  They don't want us there, they don't
                 want us there.  It's moving towards our border. Yes, it's moving towards our
                 border.  Why? 

                      So this is the foundation of all our concerns.  Not just to bring it in, or not
                 bring it in, or accept NATO or not accept NATO.  Look, the positive feeling
                 that we now have developed today with President Bush, this could be a
                 separate subject of discussion.  Because you know Russia is cooperating with
                 NATO, we have an agreement; we have association; we have various accords
                 and treaties -- and there's no need to fire up this whole situation. 

                      Q    Mr. President, did you offer President Putin any inducements in this
                 conversation to ease his opposition to a U.S. missile defense plan? 

                      And, President Putin, to follow up on your comments just now, does the
                 simple fact of President Bush saying that Russia is not an enemy actually change
                 your strategic or military planning? 

                      PRESIDENT BUSH:  I offered something:  Logic.  And a hopeful
                 tomorrow.   I offered the opportunity, which the President is going to seize, for
                 us, as leaders of great powers, to work together. 

                      We have a unique opportunity to address the true threats of the 21st century
                 -- together.  We have a great moment during our tenures to cast aside the
                 suspicions and doubts that used to plague our nations.  And I'm committed to
                 do so. 

                      I said in Poland, and I'll say it again:  Russia is not the enemy of the United
                 States.  As a matter of fact, after our meeting today, I'm convinced it can be a
                 strong partner and friend; more so than people could imagine. 

                      The leader of Russia is working hard on behalf of his people to promote
                 prosperity and peace.  And I believe our nations can work together to achieve
                 prosperity and peace not only within our respective countries, but around the
                 world.  I believe that. (...)

                       Q    To both Presidents, if you allow.  Getting back to trade and economic
                 issues, ties between our two countries, how soon do you think we can expect a
                 delegation of American businessmen to Moscow?  And do you have any plans
                 on creating an intergovernmental commission of various agencies, which could
                 stimulate economic ties between the United States and Russia?   Thank you. 

                      PRESIDENT BUSH:  Let me say one other area where the United States is in 
                 agreement with Russia.  We think Russia ought to be admitted into the World Trade
                 Organization.  And we'll work toward that end.  The Russian President has
                 expressed a desire to join the WTO, and I think it makes sense.  I think that will
                 help a lot.  And there's a lot of areas in our business relationships. (...)

                     PRESIDENT PUTIN:  You know, I agree with the President in that to
                 overload our relationship by a variety of bureaucratic structures and
                 organizations, that's not always justified.  The most important thing is to create
                 favorable conditions for effective work by the business community.   We know
                 the plans of President Bush with respect to his taxation policy and with respect
                 to other measures which he is planning, with respect to the economy of the
                 United States. 

                      From our part, we still have to do so much that would make Russia
                 attractive for foreign investors.  Although among international investors, the
                 Americans are in first place.  Naturally, first and foremost, we have to take care
                 of the issues of the energy problem in the world at large. American business is
                 showing a great interest in this sphere. 

                      But we also know that President Bush has plans in the atomic energy
                 field.  Here, too, we think we've got a couple of things we could talk
                 about.  We have a very fruitful area of cooperation we could work in.  We have
                 a number of various structures that are working very appropriately now in
                 reprocessing uranium.  We've got pretty good cooperation in space now.   It
                 seems to me that to a significant extent, that which exists now, it is functioning
                 very successfully now.  The Space Station, the International Space Station and
                 the participation of the United States and Russia.  We have so many other areas
                 we'd like to work in.  But when the businessmen come -- that depends, of
                 course, on the U.S. side -- but we'll receive them at any time that's appropriate
                 to them.