Russia's Putin: Interview Transcript

Well, it's somewhat difficult for me to talk about this with certainty, but I should say the compromise can only be found as a result of very intense negotiations.... We have a certain platform based on which we could reach agreements. Both in terms of reducing strategic offensive arms to certain levels, and I think in that context we could reach quite quickly mutual agreements. And in this context we could find common approaches to defensive systems. Anyway, our position in this is quite flexible. We believe that the ABM Treaty of 1972 is important, essential, effective and useful, but we have a negotiating platform starting from which we could reach agreements. AT least I hope so.

Can you give us any hints. I mean President Bush said "I'm going to build a missile defense system." You say "I want the ABM treaty." Where is the possibility of compromise? I don't want you to do all your negotiating here, but it would be nice.

Well, first of all the ABM treaty of 1972 already has a potential for developing defensive systems. We have developed this and it's around Moscow. The United States has a different option. There are other provisions in the treaty based on which we could find common approaches. And anyway, experts believe that based on those approaches we could quite be able to formulate terms and conditions on the basis of the existing treaty without violating its substance. That would be quite adequate to respond to the contemporary challenges and remove the concerns that the United States leadership has with respect to strategic defense.

War on Terrorism

Mr. President, you have been very supportive now of our war on terrorism, and you have said that you want nothing in return. But some advisers here in Russia say your country should get something: maybe a closer relationship with NATO, joining NATO, maybe helping with Russia's debt, maybe admission to the World Trade Organization. Would you hope to get any of this in return for U.S. support?

I don't know who said that. Churchill once put it very beautifully. He said politicians think about the next election, but statesmen think about succeeding generations. Oddly, these are very fitting words to the situation. Russia is not expecting any preferences or any payment for its position for the support of your country in combatting terrorism. This is all for our support of the opposition in fighting terrorism. We have a common enemy, international terrorism, and the work that we are pursuing together is in our best interests. But it is also in our best interests to integrate Russia in the contemporary international community in every sense of the word, in defense, political, security. And from our discussions of late, that we have had with the leaders of the European countries and the United States, everybody understands that. Where we'll be handy to each other, I think, on many occasions. And in that sense, if we talk about rapprochement, between Russia and the United States and the West, not only Russia, but the international community has an interest in that. This doesn't have anything to do with the payment. Russia's not bargaining. It's not trying to make a deal. It is just that we cooperate.

Searching for Bin Laden

Do you think we will find Osama bin Laden? Is it important that we do?

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