|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
Joint Press Availability, Stamford Plaza Hotel
Auckland, New Zealand, September 10, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good evening. In tonight's working dinner, Foreign Minister Ivanov and I will be discussing a broad range of vital topics. And it is apt that we do so here at APEC, as the United States and Russia are neighbors across the Pacific.
First, I do want to express the American people's condolences for the tragic loss of life caused by the explosion in Moscow two nights ago. Investigation of this event is not complete. But coming on the heels of the recent bombing attack in a Moscow shopping mall, events such as this remind us of the need for our two countries to intensify our cooperation in the fight against terror.
The Foreign Minister and I will also discuss candidly the problems posed by international financial crime and corruption. This is an issue that we take extremely seriously. And for this reason, we welcome the visit of a team of Russian law enforcement specialists to Washington next week for consultations.
Other security issues will have a prominent place in our meeting as well. We will continue our discussions of the growing rogue-state missile threat and how to meet it; and of how to maintain the strategic benefits of the ABM Treaty; and of how to reduce the size of each side's nuclear arsenals, by bringing the START II Treaty into force and by reaching agreement on START III.
In these and other matters, we have a lot to cover. Fortunately, the Foreign Minister and I have frequent opportunities to be in touch, including later this month at the UN General Assembly. And of course, President Clinton and Prime Minister Putin will be meeting for the first time here on Sunday.
And I know that both the Foreign Minister and I are looking forward to a typically productive evening.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (English translation) Ladies and gentlemen, we in Moscow attach traditionally high importance to the continued and -- to the maintenance of the dialogue, constructive dialogue, on the topical issues of today's development. Recently a telephone conversation took place between the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, and President of the United States Bill Clinton. In the very near future, the Secretary of Defense of the United States, Mr. Cohen, will visit Moscow. And shortly, and as Madeleine Albright correctly pointed out, we constantly maintain useful contacts and dialogue.
These contacts are maintained within the framework of the areas of cooperation and continued dialogue, as framed out by our -- during the meeting of the two presidents in Cologne. These are called for to restore trust in our bilateral relations. It is especially important now because there are a number of topical and burning, urgent issues that require finding mutual understanding in order to be resolved.
Without such mutual trust and the account of each other's interests, it would be difficult to achieve this. First of all, I mean here the entire gamut of issues having to do with maintenance of strategic stability and settlement of international conflicts. Through joint efforts, we should counter such dangerous developments of the world as terrorism, separatism, extremism, and other extreme demonstrations.
So these are the areas of our cooperation and intercourse. And I would like to use this opportunity to say the words of appreciation to the U.S. side for the words of condolence, condolences in connection with the death through a terrorist attack in Moscow.
These discussions here in Auckland are viewed and are conceived as the preparation for the forthcoming meeting between Prime Minister Putin and President Clinton.
I would like to stress here once again that we in Moscow are strongly abiding by the political line of furtherance of constructive dialogue and cooperation with the United States. This is a policy which is not based on deviations due to political conjuncture. The leadership of Russia will continue to follow this political line.
QUESTION: Mr. Ivanov, with Washington focusing so much on corruption in Russia and American prosecutors looking very closely at the large amounts of Russian money that have flowed in and out of the Bank of New York, what is the potential of all this affecting American-Russian relations? And, second of all, do you think a chief prosecutor in Russia should have a free hand to investigate corruption in Russia?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (English translation) Corruption is a transnational phenomenon. And it is appropriately -- when they say and state that monies in question belonged to Russia or Russians, the bank is an American bank. That is why we support cooperation between the special services, who must draw the necessary and appropriate conclusions and make the necessary decisions. As Secretary Albright just mentioned, next week a high-level delegation will come to Washington from Moscow consisting of representatives of the Procurator's Office of the Interior Ministry, tax police, and others. And we believe that such an interaction should be conducive to our expanded cooperation in certain areas, because such challenges require joint action and response.
And, appropriately, we -- the foreign ministers within the APEC conference -- discussed the need to establish cooperation in the fight against corruption, money laundering, narcotic drugs trafficking and others, because these challenges are multilateral and require multilateral response.
I'd like to stress, in conclusion, that we have an interest in a complete investigation of this entire body of (inaudible) information. And we are prepared for the most, closest cooperation.
QUESTION: A question to the two ministers: You've mentioned amongst other things that you welcome the consultations scheduled in connection with the ABM Treaty. Is it true that the United States in the past, in the recent past, asked the Russian side to change the parameters of the ABM Treaty? Could you elaborate on the state of affairs here, and could you comment on the possibility of this issue affecting the bilateral relations between the two countries.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me state that, as I mentioned in my remarks, is that we are, the United States, concerned about activities by the rogue nations, in terms of increased threats. And I believe that that is a threat that is common to both our countries. As we have indicated in Washington, the President is committed to a limited development of national missile defense, but not a deployment. And we do think that this will require amendments to the ABM Treaty. We do believe that the ABM treaty has been the core of the arms control regimes and obviously consider its continued importance.
I have found that in my discussions with Foreign Minister Ivanov, and prior to that with Foreign Minister Primakov, that we have a great deal in common in terms of our arms control agenda and that we have done a lot of very good work together. And I would hope that in the course of our discussions that we would find common ground on how to deal with what I said was a common threat from the rogue nations.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (English Translation) Under the agreement between the two presidents reached in Cologne, consultations are now underway between the Russian and American experts on the issues related to the ABM and the START issues. Understandably, the subject matter is extremely sensitive. On the one hand it is absolutely clear that one should continue with the process of reducing strategic arms. I here would like to stress once again that the leadership of Russia is a staunch supporter and has all intentions to see the START II treaty ratified and to launch the negotiating process in connection with START III. We believe it quite realistic to reach a considerably lower level of nuclear weapons. And regarding the ABM Treaty, as Secretary Albright has just mentioned, it represents a core of the strategic stability. Should this core be disrupted, then the strategic stability could also be disrupted. That is why we attach such great importance to this issue. And today, during our discussions tonight, we will comprehensively develop and explore the matter.
QUESTION: The last time that you two met together face-to-face I believe was at Singapore, the ARF forum, at which point you signed an agreement about the transfer of a hotline between the two ministries. And things seemed to be looking up after the tension that existed over Kosovo. I'm wondering if that easing of tension has been badly affected by the investigation into the scandal and corruption and money laundering? And also for the Foreign Minister, you mentioned that you would be talking about separatism, terrorism and other extremism, wondering if your government is not pleased with the United States' public stance on what is happening in Dagestan, if you would like them to take a stronger stance or not?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that, and it's evident from Foreign Minister Ivanov's earlier answer, that we both take very seriously the problems raised by allegations of corruption and money laundering. But I also must say that, from my perspective, I don't think that it has affected relations. In fact, before I left on my trip, the Foreign Minister and I had a conversation about this and he was the one who volunteered the fact that they were going to send a team over to work with our law enforcement officials, as he just mentioned. It's very comfortable for me to say that I think that Foreign Minister Ivanov and I probably have as many conversations by phone as any two foreign ministers. We don't agree on everything, but we have excellent discussions. And I think it's a sign of the importance that both of us attach to our relationship. And as we both have mentioned, we have a very long agenda for this evening, and I personally always look forward to our working dinners.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (English translation) I would like to add that there indeed exists a hotline between the two administrations. The last time we had a talk was when Secretary Albright was in Jerusalem and I was in Yerevan. It was then when we agreed on a trip by our experts to Washington. And I stressed during that conversation that the more active contacts on all levels is focused on the further development of our dialogue and better understanding -- trust.
And trust envisages discussions, discussions of all issues, including the difficult ones.
Incidentally, during the last telephone conversation between the two presidents, they also discussed the issue of corruption.
As to the developments in Dagestan, in our view the position of the U.S. administration is a clear cut one and absolutely transparent. So at issue here, the separatists' activities, this is an internal matter of Russia. I would like to stress in this connection once again, that separatists do not have nationality, do not defend any national flags or colors. This is a problem, an issue, that many countries face and, indeed, an entire world community faces. Here indeed one needs both understanding, interaction, and cooperation in order to fight a common -- an evil that faces the entire world.
QUESTION: (English Translation) A question to Secretary Albright: Since I'm almost sure that the Kosovo issue will be discussed tonight, how in your view realistic is this threat of secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, you are right I'm sure that Kosovo will come up tonight. We have talked about it, and I must say that we have -- I am planning to make very clear to the Foreign Minister how we appreciate the role that the Russian forces have been playing and their work within KFOR. And we are currently working with the UN operation there, in order to work out a way for the local authorities of Kosovo to work with the UN operation in a way that will permit the people of Kosovo to be able to have control over their daily lives. The issue of secession is not one that is currently on the table.
I'm sure we'll talk about here, and we'll talk about when we're in New York, is how the civil administration that is being run by the United Nations -- how it is evolving, how the local people are cooperating with it, and basically an attempt to let the people of Kosovo not be under a very oppressive rule from Belgrade.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
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