19 march, 2010 20:26  

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


“The United States is a key international partner. Despite our differences on certain issues, in the past we have managed to accommodate each other’s positions,” Prime Minister Putin said. In turn, Secretary Clinton expressed her confidence that if both sides cooperate closely, they will be able to overcome existing problems and move toward new opportunities. She said that the United States is “committed to Russia’s entry into the WTO”.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Madame Secretary,

First of all, I am very glad to have this opportunity to meet with you again in your new role.

Our relationship with the United States is of special significance to us. Unfortunately, as a result of the economic crisis, trade between our countries plummeted this past year from $36 billion to just over $16 billion. Such a low level, and yet there are such vast opportunities.

Some problems remain in our trade and economic ties. Sanctions initiated by your department have been imposed on five Russian companies. The Jackson-Vanik amendment has yet to be repealed.

Incidentally, we are prepared to step up our work with members of congress, to tell them about what is really going on in our country, in our economy and our trade and economic ties.

Russia's accession to the WTO is yet another longstanding issue. We have been involved in negotiations for 17 years now. Three issues remain, and we spend all of our time stuck in this triangle. In reality, these issues are not of vital importance to either of our economies.

I know that you have been very busy today speaking with President Dmitry Medvedev and your colleague Mr Lavrov and that you have discussed many problems.

The United States is a key international partner. Despite our differences on certain issues, in the past we have managed to accommodate each other's positions.

We have worked intensively, and not without success, to combat terrorism, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and to resolve the most pressing international conflicts. We are, of course, prepared to continue cooperating with the United States in these areas.

Unfortunately, our efforts to mediate the conflict in the Middle East as part of the Quartet are taking place amidst the exchange of strikes between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

These arrangements, such as the Quartet, should not exist simply for the sake of existing, while events take their own course, because in this case there is simply no point to them.

I am sure that you will review this issue with Mr Lavrov in detail and will seek additional ways to make such tools of diplomacy more effective.

In any case, we are always happy to see you and to have the opportunity to host you in Moscow. Welcome!

Hillary Clinton: Well, Mr Prime Minister, let me thank you for this opportunity to meet with you today.

We had an excellent meeting with Minister Lavrov yesterday, more than two hours, and comprehensively discussed many of the issues that we must work together on to solve.

I appreciate your raising the economic relationship, because we are committed to broadening and deepening ties between our two economies, our business leaders, and our investors.

Earlier when I met with President Medvedev, we talked about the high technology sector and the possibility for greater cooperation between US high-tech companies and Russian companies and economic institutions.

I know that we have, as all countries do, in their trade areas some problems to overcome, but I think if we continue to work closely together we can move beyond the problems to greater opportunities for our people.

And we are very committed to Russia joining the WTO and have spoken with the president and cabinet members about how we can help facilitate that happening.

And we are very pleased that, as we meet here in Moscow, our negotiators in Geneva are finishing the START agreement, and that today Minister Lavrov hosted the Quartet that put out a very strong statement about the necessity for Israel and the Palestinians to begin negotiations again.

And as you say, Mr Prime Minister, we have a lot of problems in that area, but I thank you and your government for the constant focus on trying to move the parties toward a resolution of this conflict.

Vladimir Putin: As for our economic partnership, our major companies are certainly interested in it and expect our bilateral support.

General Electric, Boeing and (US) petroleum companies are well established in Russia and have had great success here. They certainly need support from the US administration and the Russian government, just as Russian companies do.

Norilsk Nickel, one of the world's leaders in its sector, and other major Russian companies have established themselves in the United States already, and are investing there. Severstal, for example. They need accompaniment and signals that they are welcome both in the Russian and the US economy.

The United States is eighth overall in terms of total investments in the Russian economy, which is not very much. I hope we will talk in greater detail tonight about what remains to be done to improve the situation.