July 6, 2009,
The Kremlin, Moscow
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
We have just completed our negotiations with the U.S. President. The first visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Russia was a very busy one. The first day showed that we managed to discuss all the items of our agenda, and it was a very big one.
I would like from the outset to say that there was a very useful and very open business-like conversation. This, no doubt, was a meeting that has been expected, both in this country and the United States of America, and on which not only the future of our two countries depends but also, to a large extent, the trends of world development.
I would like to emphasize again one thing. The first day of negotiations, our meetings one-on-one and in an expanded format were very open and sincere. And this is extremely important. We have agreed that we will continue to communicate in this mode further on. In reality, for our relations, it is very important and it is not a simple job, because the backlog of problems is quite impressive. But we have enough of mutual wish and will and the principled positions that we have always held and still hold, to discuss these problems in a business-like manner and to achieve mutually beneficial results.
I would like to emphasize that each of our countries understand its role in its own way, but at the same time we realize our role and responsibility for the situation in this world – especially in a period when the level of globalization has reached such dimensions and such parameters that the decisions we make very often determine the situation in general. And such powerful states as the United States of America and the Russian Federation have special responsibility for everything that is happening on our planet.
We have many points of convergence, many mutual interests, and global and economic ones and a variety of other interests. But our desire to discuss these subjects was mutual and this is also one of very important results of our meeting since the work we are doing requires goodwill, mutual respect, and honest understanding of each other’s position.
We also came to the conclusion that Russian-American relations and the level achieved today do not correspond to their potential, to the other possibilities of our countries. And the important thing is that the level that we have today does not correspond to the need of the current age, and without active development of our relations on the foreign affairs agenda, in trade and economic, scientific, educational and cultural spheres we will not be able to build the road to the 21st century.
We have spent several hours in very busy negotiations, very specific, and at the same we dwelled on the questions of philosophy of our cooperation. I am grateful to the President of the United States for the understanding he showed on the principles that we put forward and our attention to the proposals made by the American side. So despite of the fact that in several hours we cannot remove the burden of all the problems, we have agreed that we will go forward without stopping; that we will make the decisions that are needed for the development of relations between our two countries.
We have discussed quite specific problems, and I would like to share some of them with you. We, of course, discussed international subjects. We spoke about such difficult problems as the process of Middle East settlement. We agreed to continue our work, taking into account the visits we had in the Middle East recently, and the plans that we discussed ahead of major events. We discussed the possibility of holding Moscow conference on the Middle East.
We spoke about a very important subject that requires utmost coordination of our activities. This is the problem of Afghanistan. Without our joint work in that area, we would not be able to achieve success in that area, and on that score we have agreed on a special statement.
Our relations will be also consolidated by our links in the humanitarian field, in the field of science. This has to be done by all means, and we’ll be dealing with this after this meeting in a very persistent way.
Now, a few specific results of our negotiations. You are aware of them. We have agreed on a very important subject, the new agreement of strategic offensive arms. This is a basic element of our mutual security. The work was very intensive, and I must admit that our teams, our delegations, worked on this subject in a very fruitful way. They have showed reasonable compromise, and I would like to thank everyone who took part in these negotiations or is going to take part in them.
A result of this is that we have reached not only mutual understanding of how we should move forward, but also to the basic levels on which we will advance our cooperation in this area. We agreed on the levels of carriers and warheads, meaning that this is a very concrete subject.
The Mutual Understanding we have just signed with the President of the United States says that our two countries can have from 500 to 1,100 carriers of strategic arms, and from 1,500 to 1,675 warheads. These are the new parameters within which our dialogue will be going on and where we hope to achieve final agreement that will be part of the new treaty.
We have agreed also that the offensive and defensive systems of both countries should be considered together. We have adopted a joint statement on ABM. And this is also an important result of our work, even taking into account that we have divergences on a number of items. Nevertheless, we managed to approve a joint document.
We have discussed measures of cooperation in the nuclear field and the most important is that we will continue our cooperation in every area, and a lot depends on our countries. We have signed an agreement on military transit to Afghanistan. We decided to create a presidential commission on cooperation, which will be coordinating relations among various agencies of the United States and the Russian Federation, respectively, in all priority areas, including economic and military areas.
In the military area, these questions will be dealt by the chiefs of General Staff that have just signed the document, General Makarov and [Admiral] Mullen.
Soon all these documents will be published and you will be able to familiarize yourself with them. On the whole, by characterizing our first day of work and the results of negotiations that we have had, I would like to say that I view them as a first but very important step in the process of improving full-scale cooperation between our two countries, which should go to the benefit of both states. And if both states benefit by it, that means everybody will benefit by it.
I would like to emphasize in conclusion that our country would like to reach such a level of cooperation with the United States which would be realistically worthy of the 21st century, which will ensure international peace and security. This is in our interests, and we are grateful to our American colleagues for the joint work we have done. It is true that the solution of many world problems depends on the joint will of the United States and Russia.
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BARACK OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody, and I want to thank President Medvedev and the Russian people for their hospitality. Michelle and I and our children are pleased to be here in Moscow, and to be here so early in my administration.
We’ve just concluded a very productive meeting. As President Medvedev just indicated, the President and I agreed that the relationship between Russia and the United States has suffered from a sense of drift. We resolved to reset U.S.-Russian relations, so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest. Today, after less than six months of collaboration, we’ve done exactly that by taking concrete steps forward on a range of issues, while paving the way for more progress in the future. And I think it’s particularly notable that we’ve addressed the top priorities – these are not second-tier issues, they are fundamental to the security and the prosperity of both countries.
First, we’ve taken important steps forward to increase nuclear security and to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
This starts with the reduction of our own nuclear arsenals. As the world’s two leading nuclear powers, the United States and Russia must lead by example, and that’s what we’re doing here today. We have signed a Joint Understanding for a follow-on treaty to the START agreement that will reduce our nuclear warheads and delivery systems by up to a third from our current treaty limitations. This legally binding treaty will be completed this year.
We’ve also agreed on a joint statement on nuclear security cooperation that will help us achieve the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years – progress that we can build upon later this week at the G8 summit. Together, these are important steps forward in implementing the agenda that I laid out in Prague.
As we keep our commitments, so we must ensure that other nations keep theirs. To that end, we had constructive discussions about North Korea and Iran. North Korea has abandoned its own commitments and violated international law. And that’s why I’m pleased that Russia joined us in passing a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for strong steps to block North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
Iran also poses a serious challenge through its failure to live up to international obligations. This is not just a problem for the United States. It raises the prospect of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which would endanger global security, while Iran’s ballistic missile program could also pose a threat to the broader region. That’s why I’m pleased that we’ve agreed on a joint statement on cooperation on missile defence, and a joint threat assessment of the ballistic missile challenges of the 21st century, including those posed by Iran and North Korea.
Second, we have taken important steps forward to strengthen our security through greater cooperation.
President Medvedev and I agreed upon the need to combat the threat of violent extremism, particularly from al Qaeda. And today, we’ve signed an agreement that will allow the transit of lethal military equipment through Russia to Afghanistan. This is a substantial contribution by Russia to our international effort, and it will save the United States time and resources in giving our troops the support that they need.
Thanks to Admiral Mullen and his Russian counterpart, we’ve also agreed to resume military-to-military cooperation between the United States and Russia. This provides a framework for improved cooperation and interoperability between our armed forces, so that we can better address the threats that we face – from terrorism to privacy. We’ve also agreed to restore a Joint Commission on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, which will allow our governments to cooperate in our unwavering commitment to our missing servicemen and women.
And third, we’ve taken important steps forward to broaden our cooperation on a full range of issues that affect the security and prosperity of our people.
President Medvedev and I are creating a U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission to serve as a new foundation for this cooperation. Too often, the United States and Russia only communicate on a narrow range of issues, or let old habits within our bureaucracy stand in the way of progress. And that’s why this commission will include working groups on development and the economy; energy and the environment; nuclear energy and security; arms control and international security; defence, foreign policy and counterterrorism; preventing and handling emergencies; civil society; science and technology; space; health; education; and culture. And this work will be coordinated by Secretary Clinton and Minister Lavrov, and Secretary Clinton will travel to Russia this fall to carry this effort forward.
Just to give you one example of this cooperation, is the new Memorandum of Understanding on health. We’ve learned – most recently with the H1N1 virus – that a disease that emerges anywhere can pose a risk to people everywhere. That’s why our Department of Health and Human Services will cooperate with its Russian counterparts to combat infectious, chronic, and non-communicable diseases, while promoting prevention and global health.
Finally, I’m pleased that Russia has taken the important step of lifting some restrictions on imports of U.S. livestock. The cost of these restrictions to American business is over $1.3 billion, and we’ve now made important progress towards restoring that commerce.
I won’t pretend that the United States and Russia agree on every issue. As President Medvedev indicated, we’ve had some frank discussions, and there are areas where we still disagree. For instance, we had a frank discussion on Russia – on Georgia, and I reiterated my firm belief that Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected. Yet even as we work through our disagreements on Georgia’s borders, we do agree that no one has an interest in renewed military conflict. And going forward, we must speak candidly to resolve these differences peacefully and constructively.
President Medvedev and I are committed to leaving behind the suspicion and the rivalry of the past so that we can advance the interests that we hold in common. Today, we’ve made meaningful progress in demonstrating through deeds and words what a more constructive U.S.-Russian relationship can look like in the 21st century. Tomorrow, I look forward to broadening this effort to include business, civil society, and a dialogue among the American and Russian people.
I believe that all of us have an interest in forging a future in which the United States and Russia partner effectively on behalf of our security and prosperity. That’s the purpose of resetting our relations, that is the progress we made today, and I once again want to thank President Medvedev and his entire team for being such wonderful hosts and working so effectively with our teams. Thank you.
To be continued.