Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Moscow, Russia
March 19, 2010

PRIME MINISTER PUTIN: (Via interpreter) Your Excellency, it’s a great pleasure to see you once again and meet you this time in your new capacity. Certainly, our relationship with the United States is especially important to us. And from the very outset, I would like to say that unfortunately, due to the global economic crisis last year, our (inaudible) from $36 billion to a little bit more than 60 billion. That is a great call. So the possibilities are very good.

Some problems now with trade relations still persist. Five Russian companies are still under the sanctions that were initiated by your agency. We still see the Jackson-Vanik amendment. It still reports. And actually, we are ready to work more closely with members of your Congress in order to inform them and update on the real situation in Russia in our economy and in our bilateral trade relations.

Another systemic issue is Russia’s accession to the WTO. We’ve been negotiating this issue for 17 years now. There’s only three issues left and we circulate among those three problems. But actually, these problems are not that fundamentally important either for the American economy or to the Russian economy. And I know that you have been in a very active dialogue today with President Medvedev and with your counterpart, Minister Lavrov.

Indeed, the United States is a key partner to us in our foreign policy. And despite some differences on particular issues, we’ve been able to reach agreement on most important ones. We’ve been working quite actively and usefully to fight terrorism, to prevent the (inaudible) of weapons of mass destruction, and to settle the most burning international conflicts. And we certainly stand ready to continue our cooperation with the United States on all of those issues.

Unfortunately, the work within the Quartet of international mediators on the Middle East settlement is taking place against the backdrop of exchange of attacks between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Well, certainly, the situation when talks within the Quartet take place, and at the same time, these attacks are taking place, this situation is not acceptable. But I’m convinced that together with Minister Lavrov, you are going to closely follow up on this issue and you will seek additional leverage that will contribute to the solution of this problem.

At any rate, we’re always glad to see you and we are always ready to receive you in Moscow. Welcome.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, 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 investors.

Earlier when I met with President Medvedev, we talked about the high technology sector and the possibility for greater cooperation between U.S. firms and academic institutions and those in the United States. I know that we have, as every country 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 to 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 then today, Minister Lavrov hosted the Quartet, which put out a very strong statement about the necessity for Israel and the Palestinians to begin negotiations again.

And as you say, 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 to a resolution of this conflict.

PRIME MINISTER PUTIN: (Via interpreter) As far as our economic cooperation is concerned, certainly our major companies are very much interested in such a cooperation and they are expecting us to support them – such companies as General Electric, Boeing, and our oil companies have large experience working in this field and they continue this cooperation.

And certainly, they need our support both from the U.S. Government and from the Russian Government. And at the same time, such important Russian companies as Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s largest nickel producer, Severstal and other companies, they are also interested and need such support. They need some company to their activities.

And a message should be sent that they are welcome both in the economy of the United States and in Russia. The United States holds eighth place in terms of (inaudible) Russia investments. This is not that much. And I hope that today, we’ll have a chance to discuss what else we can do to increase this figure.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We would very much like to get into specifics about how to (inaudible) barriers and open opportunities. There was a recent delegation we sent from the State Department of high-technology companies that (inaudible).

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PRN: 2010/T25-6