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News conference following talks between the presidents of Russia and the United States

1 News conference following talks between the presidents of Russia and the United States
2 Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump made press statements and answered journalists’ questions.
3 July 16, 2018 18:35 Helsinki
4 News conference about the results of the negotiations between the presidents of Russia and the United States
5 President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
6 The talks with President of the United States Donald Trump were held in a candid and business-like atmosphere. I think they were quite successful and beneficial.
7 We reviewed the current state and prospects of Russia-US relations and key international issues. It is obvious to everyone that our bilateral relations are undergoing a complicated period but there is no objective reason for these difficulties and the current tense atmosphere.
8 The Cold War ended long ago, the era of acute ideological confrontation belongs to the distant past, and the situation in the world has fundamentally changed. Today both Russia and the United States are facing completely different challenges – the mechanisms of international security and stability are dangerously out of balance, there are regional crises, the spread of the threat of terrorism and cross border crime, crime in general, growing world economic problems, environmental and other risks. It is possible to cope with all this only by working together. I hope we will come to this same understanding with our American partners.
9 Today’s talks reflected the shared desire of President Trump and myself to correct the negative situation in bilateral relations and map out initial steps to improve them, restore an acceptable level of trust and return to the former level of cooperation on all issues of mutual interest.
10 As a major nuclear power, we have special responsibility when it comes to international security. I consider it important, as we discussed, to get the dialogue on strategic stability and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on track. We made a note with a number of concrete proposals on this matter available to our American colleagues.
11 We believe that continued joint efforts to fully work through the military-political and disarmament dossier is necessary. That includes the renewal of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, the dangerous situation surrounding the development of elements of the US global missile defence system, the implementation of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, and the topic of deploying weapons in space.
12 We are in favour of continued cooperation in the sphere of combating terrorism and ensuring cybersecurity. Notably, our special services are working together quite successfully. The most recent example of that is the close operational interaction with a group of US security experts as part of the World Cup in Russia that ended yesterday. Contacts between the special services should be made systematic. I reminded the President of the United States about the proposal to reconstitute the anti-terror working group.
13 We covered regional crises extensively. Our positions do not coincide on all matters, but nonetheless there are many overlapping interests. We should be looking for common ground and working more closely, including at international forums.
14 Of course, we talked about regional crises, including Syria. With regard to Syria, restoring peace and harmony in that country could serve as an example of successful joint work.
15 Of course, Russia and the United States can take the lead in this matter and organise cooperation to overcome the humanitarian crisis and help refugees return to their hearths.
16 We have all the requisite elements for effective cooperation on Syria. Notably, Russian and American military have gained useful experience of interaction and coordination in the air and on land.
17 I would also like to note that after the terrorists are routed in southwest Syria, in the so-called “southern zone”, the situation in the Golan Heights should be brought into full conformity with the 1974 agreement on the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces.
18 This will make it possible to bring tranquillity to the Golan Heights and restore the ceasefire between the Syrian Arab Republic and the State of Israel. The President devoted special attention to this issue today.
19 I would like to emphasise that Russia has a stake in this course of events and will adhere to exactly this position. This will constitute a step towards establishing a just and durable peace on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 338.
20 It is good that efforts to gradually solve the problem of the Korean Peninsula have begun. This became possible largely because President Trump got personally involved and pursued dialogue in the spirit of cooperation rather than confrontation.
21 During the talks we openly discussed Russia’s concern over the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear issue. The US knows our position. It remains unchanged. To underscore, due to the nuclear deal Iran has become the country most heavily inspected by the IAEA. This guarantees the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme and facilitates the consolidation of the non-proliferation regime.
22 Returning to our discussion of the Ukrainian crisis, the importance of observing the Minsk agreements in good faith was noted. The United States could be more resolute in insisting on this and could motivate Ukraine’s leaders to engage in this work.
23 We paid special attention to the economy. Obviously, there is interest in cooperation in the business circles of both countries. The US delegation was one of the biggest at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in May. It consisted of over 500 US entrepreneurs.
24 To develop trade and investment, President Trump and I agreed to establish a high-level group that would unite captains of Russian and American business. Business people better understand how to go about mutually beneficial cooperation. Let them consider what can be done and make recommendations.
25 Once again President Trump touched on the so-called Russian interference in the electoral process in the United States. I had to repeat what I said many times before, including during my personal meeting with the President: Russia has never and will never interfere in US domestic affairs, including the electoral process. We are ready to examine all concrete materials that may be presented, for example, in the framework of the cybersecurity working group, the establishment of which we discussed during our meeting in Hamburg.
26 And, of course, it is time to unfreeze Russian-US ties between civic organisations and in the cultural and humanitarian sphere. As you know, recently we received a delegation from the US Congress, which was considered almost a historic event, when it should be a regular occurrence.
27 On this note, we have proposed that the US President think not only on practical issues but also on the philosophy underlying long-term bilateral relations. It would be useful to involve experts on the history and nuances of Russian-US cooperation in this process.
28 Our idea is to establish an expert council composed of influential Russian and US political analysts, academics, prominent former diplomats and military officers, which would work on finding points of convergence and ways to put bilateral cooperation on a sustainable positive trajectory.
29 In general, we are satisfied with our first full-scale meeting. Let me say once again that before this, we had only met briefly at international forums. President Trump and I had a good conversation. I hope now we understand each other better, and I thank Donald for this.
30 Of course, numerous problems remain. We have not managed to clear all the blockages, which would be impossible in one meeting. But I believe we have taken an important first step in this direction.
31 In conclusion I would like to note that our Finnish hosts helped to create the working atmosphere during the talks. I thank to the leadership of Finland, the Finnish people and residents of Helsinki for what they have done. We know that we have caused a lot of inconvenience for people in Helsinki and we apologise for this.
32 Thank you for your attention.
33 President of the United States Donald Trump: I have just concluded a meeting with President Putin on a wide range of critical issues, important for both of our countries. We had direct, open and deeply productive dialogue. It went very well.
34 Before I begin, I want to thank President Niinistö of Finland for graciously hosting today’s summit. President Putin and I were saying how lovely it was and what a great job they did. I also want to congratulate Russia and President Putin for having done such an excellent job in hosting the World Cup. It was really one of the best ever, and your team also did very well. It was a great job.
35 I am here today to continue the proud tradition of bold American diplomacy. From the earliest days of our republic, American leaders have understood that diplomacy and engagement is preferable to conflict and hostility. A productive dialogue is not only good for the United States and good for Russia, but it is good for the world.
36 The disagreements between our two countries are well-known. President Putin and I discussed them at length today. But if we are going to solve many of the problems facing our world, then we are going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests.
37 Too often in both the recent past and long ago we have seen the consequences when diplomacy is left on the table. We have also seen the benefits of cooperation. In the last century our nations fought alongside one another in the Second World War. Even during the tensions of the Cold War, when the world looked much different than it does today, the United States and Russia were able to maintain a strong dialogue. But our relationship has never been worse than it is now.
38 However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that. Nothing would be easier politically than to refuse to meet, to refuse to engage, but that would not accomplish anything.
39 As President, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy to appease partisan critics, or the media, or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. A constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia provides an opportunity to open a new path to peace and stability in the world.
40 I will most likely take political risk on myself in order to achieve peace, instead of risking the world and betraying politics. As President, I first of all think about what is best for America, which is better for the American people.
41 During today’s meeting, I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections. I felt that this was a message best delivered in person. We spent a great deal of time talking about it, and President Putin may very well want to address it, and very strongly, because he feels very strongly about it.
42 We also discussed one of the most critical challenges facing humanity: nuclear proliferation. I provided an update on my meeting last month with Chairman Kim on the denuclearisation of North Korea, and after today I am very sure that President Putin and Russia want very much to end that problem. They are going to work with us, and I appreciate that commitment.
43 The President and I also discussed the sourge of radical Islamic terrorism. Both Russia and the United States have suffered horrific terrorist attacks, and we have agreed to maintain open communication between our security agencies to protect our citizens from this global menace. Last year we told Russia about a planned attack in St Petersburg, and they were able to stop it cold. They found them, they stopped them, there was no doubt about it. I appreciated President Putin’s phone call afterwards to thank me.
44 I also emphasised the importance of placing pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions and to stop its campaign of violence throughout the area, throughout the Middle East.
45 As we discussed at length, the crisis in Syria is a complex one. Cooperation between our two countries has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. I also made clear that the United States will not allow Iran to benefit from our successful campaign against ISIS. We have just about eradicated ISIS in the area.
46 We also agreed that representatives from our national security councils will meet to follow up on all of the issues we addressed today and to continue the progress we have started right here in Helsinki.
47 Today’s meeting is only the beginning of a longer process, but we have taken the first steps towards a brighter future, and one with a strong dialogue and a lot of thought. Our expectations are grounded in realism, but our hopes are grounded in America’s desire for friendship, cooperation and peace, and I think I can speak on behalf of Russia when I say that also.
48 President Putin, I want to thank you again for joining me for these important discussions and for advancing open dialogue between Russia and the United States. Our meeting carries on a long tradition of diplomacy between Russia and the United States for the greater good of all.
49 And this was a very constructive day, these were very constructive few hours that we spent together. It is in the interests of both of our countries to continue our conversation, and we have agreed to do so. I am sure we will be meeting again in the future often, and hopefully we will solve every one of the problems that we discussed today.

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