Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 19, 2009

QUESTION: You strongly criticized President Bush for incoherent policy towards Russia. What would you see a consistent or a real logical policy towards Moscow, especially after you pressed the reset button with Minister Lavrov in Geneva?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, our intention is to create a framework for cooperation and engagement with Russia. Secretary Lavrov and I will be helping to organize and determine how we’re going to proceed. We’ve been asked by each of our presidents to do that. Now, we will have areas of agreement, as we do on our efforts to come up with a new START proposal, and we will have areas of disagreement, as we do over Georgia. But we want to stay on course so that we can build on our areas of agreement and narrow our areas of disagreement. And I think we’re off to a good beginning. I believe our presidents’ meeting in London was very positive and constructive.

As you know, President Obama will be going to Moscow for a summit in July. And I’ve had constructive meetings with Secretary Lavrov. So our goal is not that we’re going to either be way up or way down, which I think leads to misunderstandings over single specific issues, but instead, we’re going to stay on a steady course. And where we disagree with each other, we’re going to be honest enough to say we don’t agree. But we’re not going to stop working together in the areas where we can.

QUESTION: As you mentioned, negotiations with regard to new START treaty on the way. Would you agree that this particular issue have to be discussed in a context of concerns which Moscow express about the U.S. plans to build missile defense sites in Eastern Europe?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have said that we want to work with Russia on missile defense. Our view is that this was never intended to be used against Russia. That would be foolish. I mean, Russia and the United States are the most significant nuclear powers in the world. We have a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. You’re not going to deter either of us through that kind of approach. That’s never been the point. And we’ve made that as part of our dialogue with the Russians and we’ve said, let’s work together.

Our fear is, frankly, the development of a nuclear weapon by either a state that we think might not have the same approach that the United States and Russia has to safeguarding and being a responsible steward of nuclear weapons, or even worse, that a nuclear weapon would fall into the hands of a terrorist network. So we want to do research with the Russians. We want to look for sites that we can both agree on and maybe mutually construct and monitor. That has been the offer we’ve put on the table.

QUESTION: Do you know how many options on the table with regard to new START treaty you’ve prepared before the summit in Moscow?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, what we’re hoping is that the negotiations, which are off to a good start in Moscow as we speak, will lead to a framework that our two presidents will endorse at their summit in Moscow. This is very hard and it takes a lot of work, but I believe that we are both approaching it in good faith. We understand the responsibilities that both our nations have toward the world in trying to lessen the danger of nuclear weapons and get back to nonproliferation, which we think is in everyone’s interests, and that’s what we intend to do.

QUESTION: Are you planning to travel to Moscow yourself?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when the President travels, I may have to be going somewhere else. I’m not sure yet, but I have enjoyed my times in Russia before and I look forward to returning as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk with you.

QUESTION: Same here.

PRN: 2009/482