Putin, Obama meet on sidelines of G-20 Summit
Bilateral meetings between G-20 leaders have become what might be called a prelude to the summit itself. Russian President Vladimir Putin represents the Russian Federation at the forum which opened on June 18 in Los Cabos, Mexico. Politicians and journalists were particularly looking forward to the outcome of talks and negotiations between Russia’s president and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama.
The White House called the talks between the two presidents one of the most important highlights of the American leader’s visit to Mexico. The prospects evident in the dialogue between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama have been discussed by the media all over the world: after all, the U.S. and Russian leaders are meeting for the first time since President Putin’s re-election.
The conversation between the presidents took place at the hotel “Esperanza,” (Spanish for ‘Hope’) which for the time of the G-20 summit has become the home base of Barack Obama. The result of the meeting was a joint statement released by the presidents of Russia and the U.S., the contents of which they explained at a joint press conference. During the course of an hour and a half the presidents managed to discuss a wide range of issues: from the economy to global security, Putin said.
President Putin stated:
“Today our talk was very informative and substantive. We were able to talk about security issues and discussed issues of bilateral economic relations. In this regard I would like to thank you (Obama) for supporting Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. I am confident that this will contribute to the development of economic ties between Russia and the U.S. and in creating jobs in both countries.”
The U.S. president, in turn, noted that the level of trade between the two countries today is much lower than it could be. Due to this, the main task of his administration with regard to economic relations with Russia, is the lifting of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. (The document in question was adopted in the 1970s and limited trade in high-tech products with the USSR.) Obama is in full agreement with the fact that the amendment has long outlived its usefulness. Its repeal would promote trade and investment ties, mutual growth and prosperity.
On security the leaders of the two countries had to spend more time: as a lot of problems have accumulated. The time was well spent as a mutual understanding was reached, Putin said.
“We talked about international issues, including Syria. In my opinion, we have found a lot of common ground on these issues, and we will continue to maintain contact, both on the personal level as well as on the expert level.”
With regard to Syria, the Russian and U.S. presidents stressed the need to allow the people of that country to independently choose their own path to further development. Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama called on the parties in the conflict to immediately cease all violence and expressed their full support for the efforts of Special Envoy Kofi Annan.
The presidents did not leave the subject of Pyongyang untouched. The leaders urged North Korea not to escalate tensions in the region and fulfill all the requirements of UN Security Council. Moscow and Washington, for their part, are ready to continue joint efforts to transform the Korean Peninsula into a nuclear-free zone.
Another burning issue was Iran’s nuclear program. Russia and the U.S. demanded that Tehran comply fully with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions. Moscow and Washington also recognize the right of Iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. At the same time, however, the Iranian government should make serious efforts to restore the confidence of the international community. The exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program must be confirmed through Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA. Putin and Obama expect a constructive dialogue from Tehran including in negotiations that are currently taking place in the Russian capital.
The central theme of the meeting of the two presidents was the U.S. Administration’s plans for missile defense, the main stumbling block in relations between Russia and the United States. As stated by Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, the differences between Washington and Moscow over missile defense remain, but both sides firmly intend to continue their dialogue. In the meantime, a priority for both sides is a new treaty on strategic offensive arms.
After the press conference President Vladimir Putin was expecting a whole series of bilateral meetings and of course, participation in the G-20 Summit. The world leaders gathered in Los Cabos, are focused mainly on a single but very import economic issue: how to overcome the crisis.