THE WHITE HOUSE
the Press Secretary
PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRESIDENT WILLIAM
AND PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN
St. George's Hall
6:55 P.M. (L)
PUTIN: Good day, ladies and gentlemen. I will allow myself to begin summing up
our two days of work, with our guests and partners, with the President of the
United States, Mr. Bill Clinton, and members of his team. For two days now, we
worked very intensively. And I have to say right off the bat that both in terms
of the spirit and the quality of our talks, as well as the results, the Russian
side cannot but express its satisfaction.
We discussed issues of
interest in our opinion not only the to United States and the Russian
Federation, but to the other countries, as well, on global matters -- all of
mankind's interest, really lies here. We discussed in great detail everything
that had been done in this very important -- issues of interest to both of our
sides, and that which have been in the last several years. We agree that we're
going to be acting in this direction jointly in the future.
discussed the issues of new global threats, threats such as terrorism,
narcotics, crime. We talked about issues which, to our mind, have a certain
solution; in the estimation of our American colleagues, maybe have a different
kind of a solution. We exchanged ideas and opinions on issues to which we had
different solutions in the past. These talks were very candid, very open and
As you know, with my colleague, with the President of the
United States, I signed several documents, including statements on security.
And many things are determined and defined there, and much is said in these
documents. The result, I think, can be summed up by saying that we not only
confirmed the high level of our relations, but we also expressed the trend of
the development of our relations between our two countries for the near future.
I wanted to stress here, ladies and gentlemen, the following, that over
the last period of time, say, a year or even more, the relations between our
two countries have been of a varied kind -- at one time, we had relations
increasing and improving; then they would be falling. But that high level,
which was reached over the last eight years by the efforts of the Russian
leadership and of the administration of President Clinton, allowed us to always
find a way out of these crises with honor -- not only to reestablish good
relations, but also to solve problems where we had disagreements. And we really
cherish this. I am pleased to note here that in these very tough questions, we
observed not only a desire to speak, but also to find joint and mutually
We discussed also topics that had to do with
bilateral economic interests. Here I wanted to say that the Russian Federation,
in the face of your humble servant and the chairman of the government, the
Prime Minister, Mr. Kasyanov, the leading ministers of the government who
participated and took part in these talks and negotiations not only informed
and described to our American guests what's happening economically in Russia
today, but also discussed with our partners joint actions, joint activities,
both of a bilateral nature as well as within the framework of international
I want to stress here as well that the Russian
Federation aims not only to go through its transformation, about which many
people have so much spoken, but very decisively to do so in a practical way --
I mean moving ahead on the tax code, and moving ahead on production sharing.
Here we have some issues which we have not yet been able to resolve between us
and the state Duma, but I think these are rather technical issues. I think,
together with the deputies in the state Duma, we're going to be trying to find
solutions and finally get this legislation.
We spoke about the upcoming
international events -- the Okinawa summit, the Millennium summit in the United
Nations in New York, the Brunai meeting. In this way, Mr. Clinton and myself,
we have reached an accord on further joint progress along a whole series of
issues, which not only did we discuss today and yesterday, and which we will
still have an opportunity to discuss some more tomorrow, to move ahead on these
issues at the events that I have listed.
On behalf of the leadership of
the Russian Federation, I want to thank the American delegation not only for
accepting our invitation and coming to Russia, but for a very constructive and
businesslike discussion in an attempt to find solutions.
Thank you so
much for your attention.
PRESIDENT 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 nonproliferation 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
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 that will now never fall into the wrong hands.
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.
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
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 defense 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
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
authorize a speedy return of the OSCE to the region.
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 conclude
work on the Kyoto Protocol, including market mechanisms, to protect the
environment, promote clean energy and reduce costs. I think that has a great
economic opportunity here as well as a great environmental one.
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
Again, Mr. President, I thank you for this and especially for
these two agreements, and I look forward to our continued work together.
Q The question to the President of Russia. What is the priority you
give to Russian-American relations in the world, and a world that, as we see,
is changing and forming in a different way? Thank you.
The history of relations of the former Soviet Union and the United States of
America, and now Russian Federation and the United States, its history, as I've
said, has many dramatic, as well as many positive elements. We were allies.
There was a period of time when we suffered through confrontation between our
two sides. One would hope that the very worst in our relations is far, far
For today, the United States is one of our main partners.
And as far as Russia is concerned, it will never make the choice regarding the
United States in order to start once again confrontation. Never. We are for
cooperation. We are for coming to agreement on problems that might arise.
And naturally, problems like this exist, and have existed, and probably
will exist. That is not important. What's important is that the approach to
finding a solution is only one -- it's unique -- it cannot be aimed at
destroying everything positive that has been achieved in the recent past, but
also looking into the future. And this kind of chance, and this intention among
the leadership of Russia, as well as, I understand it, among the leadership of
the President of the United States -- we are going to follow these principles,
these kinds of tendencies.
Q 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 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.
Q President Clinton, Mr. President,
what do you feel about Russia's continuation of reducing within START III the
number of warheads down to 1,500 warheads? Thank you.
CLINTON: I missed the translation. Would you give it to me again?
What would be the attitude of the United States, Mr. President, on the Russian
position of coming down to 1,500 warheads within START III?
CLINTON: Well, I -- 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
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
Q 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?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: You want to go first?
PRESIDENT PUTIN: As
you know, this is not our first meeting, between myself and President Clinton.
President Clinton, now for almost eight years, heads one of the most powerful
countries in the world. He's a very experienced politician. In my mind, we've
established now not only good business ties, but also personal relations. For
me, President Clinton is a person who is a very comfortable and pleasant
partner in negotiations.
I think that if all, if everyone behaves the
way President Clinton has behaved, not trying to find dead ends and problems,
but to seek ways of moving ahead, I think, between us in the future our
relations really will be successful. Take a look at the ABM Treaty. There are a
lot of problems there. We've written down in our statement, about which Mr.
Clinton just spoke, a basis, a principle of basis for maintaining the ABM
Treaty as a major key point in the whole strategic balance, and for maintaining
Now, the starting point for the possibility of seeing new
threats arrive, we have a commonality. We're against having a cure which is
worse than the disease. We understand that there are ways and a basis that we
can build upon in order to solve even this issue, an issue which seems to be
one of the most difficult to solve.
So I repeat -- we know that today,
in the United States, there is a campaign ongoing. We're familiar with the
programs of the two main candidates. And if these programs are implemented, and
there it says, for instance, the necessity to positively improve relations
between Russia and the United States, the time that Mr. Clinton is going to
pass on to the next President, no matter who gets to be President, we're
willing to go forward on either one of these approaches. Thank you.
PRESIDENT 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 two days of our really serious work.
END 7:20 P.M. (L)