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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 June, 2003, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Excerpts: Bush and Putin statements
US President George W Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Brought back together by adversity?

The US and Russian presidents have paid tribute to the strength of their bilateral relationship at a news conference in St Petersburg.

The following are excerpts from the conference, as broadcast by Russia TV:

Overcoming differences

Putin: We are aware of the opinion that Russian-US relations have been going through a period of trial and of questions about whether they can withstand that test. President Bush and I confirmed today that the strategic route towards partnership between our two countries based on mutual respect and understanding of each others' interests is unshakeable.

I must say that the foundations of the Russian-US relationship have turned out to be more solid than the difficulties that we have encountered recently.

Bush: I think that this experience will make our relationship stronger, not weaker. As we go forward, we will show the world that friends can disagree, move beyond disagreement and work in a very constructive and important way to maintain the peace.


Bilateral relations

Putin: The Russian-US partnership is not an isolated factor in world politics. It is very important that it should contribute to uniting the international community in the face of new threats and challenges... Our discussion was very frank, comprehensive and informative.


Weapons of mass destruction

Bush: The United States and Russia are determined to meet the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.

We strongly urge North Korea to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons programme. We are concerned about Iran's advanced nuclear programme and urge Iran to comply in full with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Iran

Bush: Russia and the US have mutual concern about Iran's nuclear programme. I appreciate President Putin's understanding on the issue and his willingness to work with me and others to solve this potential problem.

Putin: The positions of the US and Russia on this issue are much closer than they may seem. President Bush and I have full understanding on this as well as on other topical international problems.

But we resent a situation where nuclear programmes or anything else is used as a lever for unfair competition against Russian companies on the Iranian market.


Disarmament and terrorism

Putin: The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty makes a real contribution to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime. It is particularly topical in view of the task of fighting international terrorism, which is seeking - for its criminal goals - to acquire various means, including weapons of mass destruction. Now we must work on implementing that treaty.

Bush: We are working closely to confront the challenges of our time. Both our countries have suffered greatly at the hands of terror and our governments are taking action against this threat.

We are going to win the war on terror by co-operation as well as providing security and help to innocent people. That's why I support the goals of ending the fighting and suffering in Chechnya and reaching a lasting political settlement in that region.


Iraq reconstruction

Putin: We view the latest UN resolution on Iraq as a serious step towards working together on that issue within the UN and together with the US... I agree entirely with President Bush that we must think about the Iraqi people.

Russian companies have good experience of working in Iraq. We are ready to co-operate with the Iraqi authorities and the world community. We can offer everything at our disposal - our experience, necessary means and resources - to restore the country. We do not rule out a situation where Russian companies may work in Iraq. It will depend on Iraq's internal situation.

Bush: The United States appreciates Russia's recent support for lifting UN sanctions on Iraq and we both agree that the United Nations must play a vital role in Iraq's reconstruction. We discussed ways we can work together to help build a better future for the people of Iraq... We must work together to improve the lives of the Iraqi citizens; we must co-operate closely to make sure that the Iraqi infrastructure is in place so that Iraqi citizens can live decently.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




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