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#2 - JRL 7204
RUSSO-US SUMMIT CONFIRMS ESSENTIAL COOPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES

ST. PETERSEBURG, 1 June, 2003. /a RIA Novosti special correspondent/-Vladimir Putin and George Bush have exchanged ratification notes on the Russo-American Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.

The Russo-American Treaty was adopted in the interests of strategic stability and international security, the Russian head of state announced at a press conference following his meeting with George Bush in St. Petersburg's Constantine Palace.

Putin reminded those present that the two countries' strategic weapons would be cut by three times. He said that the Treaty would make a real contribution towards bolstering the nuclear non-proliferation system. The Russian leader said that this was a particularly urgent matter with regard to the fight against international terrorism. According to him, this move will prevent nuclear weapons from falling into terrorists' hands.

"I believe that it is particularly important that this summit has confirmed that there is no alternative to the Russo-American cooperation," the Russian president stated. He added that the foundations of Russo-US relations had proved to be firmer than the encountered complications.

Putin stressed that Russo-American partnership "is not an isolated factor in international politics." "It is very important that it serves to unite the international community in the face of new challenges," he emphasized.

He said that his talks with Bush had been very open and full of content.

In his turn, George Bush said that the SOR Treaty reflected the new strategic relationship between Russia and the USA. According to him, the Treaty is based on mutual respect and the desire to create a safer world.

Putin did not rule out that Russian companies could work in Iraq. "This will depend on the situation that is developing in this country, including within the Oil for Food program," he said. "[We are] ready to cooperate further with the Iraqi authorities, as well as representatives of the international community that have the necessary experience and resources to reconstruct the country," he continued.

In answer to a question about the future of Iraq and its energy sector, Putin said that he agreed with George Bush that it was necessary to think about the fate of Iraq and its people, and how citizens' lives would develop.

In turn, Bush spoke about the future regulating situation in Iraq and the participation of Russian companies in putting the country back on its feet, noting that Russia has much experience in working in this area.

According to Bush, both presidents agreed that the UN should play an active role in the reconstruction of Iraq.

The US president also announced that the USA and Russia "will tighten their joint cooperation in the area of anti-missile defense." Bush stated that cooperation in the area of anti-missile defense is a critically important factor in providing safety to the two countries.

He also touched on the topic of regulation in Chechnya, stating that he supports the goal of political regulation and the end to the military activity in Chechnya.

Putin announced that the positions of Russia and the USA on the issue of Iran's atomic program "are closer than they seem." "We do not need to convince anyone that weapons of mass destruction should not spread all over the world and this does not just involve Iran." As Vladimir Putin stressed, he and George Bush have a "mutual understanding" on this issue.

Vladimir Putin also noted that Russia is against using Iran's atomic program as a lever for unfair competition against Russian companies on the Iranian market.

In turn, Bush stated that the USA, Russia and the International Agency on Atomic Energy in tight cooperation in order not to allow weapons of mass destruction to appear.

Regardless of all of these issues, the presidents of Russia and the USA were not only able to sustain their personal relations, but also create a more precise instrument in their cooperation according to Vladimir Putin in answering questions set by RIA Novosti. The Russian president said, "We have shown restraint and took with care our international and personal relations. I do not believe that there were any unsolvable issues. There will always be issues. They will become more obvious and less noticeable." "We will do everything that we can so that the issues are less and the points of undersatnding are more," Putin stressed.

He also noted that the presidents of Russia and the USA "clearly hold the same point of view and that allows me to call Bush my friend, and I - his friend." Bush invited Putin to visit the USA in September and stay at the USA president's residence at Camp David. The USA president called the celebration of the 300-year anniversary of St. Petersburg "simply fantastic." He also reported that he is working with the members of Congress on the of the Jackson - Vanik amendment.

Bush thanked Russia for supporting the work of the International Aeronautical Station after the catastrophe with the space shuttle "Columbia."

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