[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 37, Number 46 (Monday, November 19, 2001)]
[Pages 1652-1658]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With President Vladimir Putin of Russia

November 13, 2001

    President Bush. It's a great honor for me to welcome President 
Vladimir Putin to the White House and to welcome his wife, as well. This 
is a new day in the long history of Russian-American relations, a day of 
progress and a day of hope.
    The United States and Russia are in the midst of a transformation of 
a relationship that will yield peace and progress. We're transforming 
our relationship from one of hostility and suspicion to one based on 
cooperation and trust that will enhance opportunities for peace and 
progress for our citizens and for people all around the world.
    The challenge of terrorism makes our close cooperation on all issues 
even more urgent. Russia and America share the same threat and the same 
resolve. We will fight and defeat terrorist networks wherever they 
exist. Our highest priority is to keep terrorists from acquiring weapons 
of mass destruction.
    Today we agreed that Russian and American experts will work together 
to share information and expertise to counter the threat from 
bioterrorism. We agreed that it is urgent that we improve the physical 
protection and accounting of nuclear materials and prevent illicit 
nuclear trafficking. And we will strengthen our efforts to cut off every 
possible source of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, materials, 
and expertise. Today we also agreed to work more closely to combat 
organized crime and drug trafficking, a leading source of terrorist 
    Both nations are committed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, 
once hostilities there have ceased and the Taliban are no longer in 
control. We support the U.N.'s efforts to fashion a post-Taliban 
government that is broadly based and multiethnic. The new government 
must export neither terror nor drugs, and it must respect fundamental 
human rights.
    As Russia and the United States work more closely to meet new 21st 
century threats, we're also working hard to put the threats of the 20th 
century behind us once and for all, and we can report great progress.
    The current levels of our nuclear forces do not reflect today's 
strategic realities. I have informed President Putin that the United 
States will reduce our operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads 
to a level between 1,700 and 2,200 over the next decade, a level fully 
consistent with American security.
    Russia and the United States have also had vast discussions about 
our defensive capabilities, the ability to defend ourselves as we head 
into the 21st century. We have different points of view about the ABM 
Treaty, and we will continue dialog and discussions about the ABM 
Treaty, so that we may be able to develop a new strategic framework that 
enables both of us to meet the true threats of the 21st century as 
partners and friends, not as adversaries.
    The spirit of partnership that now runs through our relationship is 
allowing the United States and Russia to form common approaches to 
important regional issues. In the Middle East, we agree that all parties 
must take practical actions to ease tensions so that peace talks can 
resume. We urge the parties to move without delay to implement the Tenet 
work plan and the Mitchell report recommendations.
    In Europe, we share a vision of a European Atlantic community whole, 
free, and at peace, one that includes all of Europe's democracies, and 
where the independence and sovereignty of all nations are respected. 
Russia should be a part of this Europe.
    We will work together with NATO and NATO members to build new 
avenues of cooperation and consultation between Russia and NATO. NATO 
members and Russia are increasingly allied against terrorism, regional 
instability, and other threats of our age. And NATO must reflect this 
    We're encouraged by President Putin's commitment to a political 
dialog in Chechnya. Russia has also made important strides on 
immigration and the protection of

[[Page 1653]]

religious and ethnic minorities, including Russia's Jewish community. On 
this issue, Russia is in a fundamentally different place than it was 
during the Soviet era. President Putin told me that these gains for 
freedom will be protected and expanded. Our Foreign Ministers have 
sealed this understanding in an exchange of letters. Because of this 
progress, my administration will work with Congress to end the 
application of Jackson-Vanik amendment to Russia.
    Russia has set out to strengthen free market institutions and the 
rule of law. On this basis, our economic relationship is developing 
quickly, and we will look for further ways to expand it.
    A strong, independent media is a vital part of a new Russia. We've 
agreed to launch a dialog on media entrepreneurship, so that American 
and Russian media representatives can meet and make practical 
recommendations to both our Governments, in order to advance our goal of 
free media and free exchange of ideas.
    Russia and the United States will continue to face complex and 
difficult issues. Yet, we've made great progress in a very short period 
of time. Today, because we are working together, both our countries and 
the world are more secure and safe. I want to thank President Putin for 
the spirit of our meetings. Together, we're making history, as we make 
    Laura and I are looking forward to welcoming the Putins to our ranch 
in Crawford, Texas. I can't wait to show you my State and where I live. 
In the meantime, I hope you have a fine stay here in Washington, DC. And 
it's my honor to welcome you to the White House, sir, and welcome you to 
the podium.
    President Putin. Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether I would 
have an opportunity to address such a representative audience of the 
press and media. I would like to begin, anyway, with words of thanks to 
the President of the United States, not only for his kind invitation to 
visit the United States and Washington but also for his very informal 
initiation of our negotiations earlier today. Myself and my colleagues 
are very pleased to be here, this historic building of the White House. 
And President Bush deemed it appropriate not only to tour me, to guide 
me through the premises of this house where he lives, he--saw almost 
every picture hanging on the walls of this great building. But it is not 
only very interesting, but it also changes for the better the quality of 
our relationship.
    I would like to once again thank the President and the American 
people, and I would like to express our condolences in connection with 
the recent plane crash in the United States. As they say in Russia, 
tragedy does not come alone, and tragedies always come in many numbers. 
I am confident that the U.S.--American people would face this tragedy 
very bravely.
    I would like to inform you that the Washington part of our 
negotiations is being completed, and our discussions proved very 
constructive, interesting, and useful and will continue at Crawford. But 
the preliminary results we evaluate as extremely positive.
    This is our fourth meeting with President Bush in the last few 
months. I believe this is a vivid demonstration of the dynamic nature of 
the Russian-American relations. We have come to understand each other 
better, and our positions are becoming closer on the key issues of 
bilateral and international relations. We are prepared now to seek 
solutions in all areas of our joint activities. We intend to dismantle 
conclusively the vestiges of the cold war and to develop new--entirely 
new partnership for long term.
    Of course, we discussed in detail the subject matter of fight 
against terrorism. The tragic developments of September the 11th 
demonstrated vividly the need for a joint effort to counter this global 
threat. We consider this threat as a global threat, indeed, and the 
terrorists and those who help them should know that the justice is 
inescapable, and it will reach them wherever they try to hide.
    Also, post-crisis political settlement in Afghanistan was discussed. 
The most important thing for today is to return peace and the life in 
honor to Afghanistan, so that no threat originate from Afghanistan to 
the international stability. Of course, we do not intend to force upon 
the Afghani people the solutions; it is for them to resolve those issues

[[Page 1654]]

with the active participation of the United Nations.
    We discussed in detail our dialog related to strategic offensive and 
defensive weapons. Here, we managed to achieve certain progress. First 
of all, it has to do with the prospects of reaching a reliable and 
verifiable agreement on further reductions of the U.S. and Russian 
    Here I must say, we appreciate very much the decision by the 
President to reduce strategic offensive weapons to the limits indicated 
by him. And we, for our part, will try to respond in kind.
    On the issues of missile defense, the position of Russia remains 
unchanged, and we agreed to continue dialog and consultations on this. I 
believe that it's too early now to draw the line under the discussions 
of these issues, and we will have an opportunity to continue the work on 
this--one of the very difficult issues--at the Crawford ranch.
    We also exchanged on a number of topical issues of international 
importance, the Balkans, Iraq. And we reiterated in a joint statement 
the resolve of the United States and Russia to facilitate settlement in 
the Middle East and the early resumption of negotiations between 
Israelis and Palestinians.
    We also discussed seriously the development of relations between 
Russia and NATO, including taking into account a changed international 
situation. We consider that there are opportunities for an entirely new 
mechanism, joint decisionmaking, and coordinated action in the area of 
security and stability.
    We considered in detail a number of economic cooperation issues. The 
Russian-American dialog in this area has become recently more 
constructive and more tangible. Such major investment projects as 
Sakhalin I and Caspian Pipeline Consortium are gaining momentum. 
Successful is cooperation in the air-space, mining, chemistry, car 
building, and other industries. Direct contacts are expanding between 
entrepreneurs of the two countries, including within the Russian-
American business dialog.
    It is with satisfaction that we note a certain progress in issues 
related to the Russia's accession to the WTO, in recognizing Russia as a 
market economy country, and we've felt a great degree of understanding 
that such issues should be resolved, I mean, dealing with the Jackson-
Vanik amendment, not de facto but in legal terms. And in this context, 
our Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State, Messrs. Ivanov and 
Powell, exchanged letters reiterating the resolve of Russia and the 
United States to observe human rights and religious freedoms.
    Of course, the capabilities embedded in the bilateral relationship 
have not been fully implemented. The key--we have quite a lot of things 
to do, but we are confident that the success is, by and large, 
predetermined by our resolve to cooperate energetically and 
constructively. That, and I'm confident, would benefit both countries 
and which is reflected, also, in our visit to this country today.
    Thank you.

Situation in Afghanistan

    Q. Mr. President, welcome to the White House, sir. Mr. President, 
the Northern Alliance forces took over Kabul, and there are reports of 
executions of POWs and other violent reprisals. Can the Alliance be 
trusted to form a broad-based government? If not, what should happen 
next to stabilize Afghanistan, and what role, if any, should U.S. troops 
play in that political phase?
    President Bush. First of all, we're making great progress in our 
objective, and that is to tighten the net and eventually bring Al Qaida 
to justice, and at the same time, deal with the Government that has been 
harboring them.
    President Putin and I spent a lot of time talking about the Northern 
Alliance and their relationship to Kabul, as well as Mazar-e Sharif and 
other cities that have now been liberated from the Taliban. I made it 
very clear to him that we would continue to work with the Northern 
Alliance to make sure they recognized that in order for there to be a 
stable Afghanistan, which is one of our objectives, after the Taliban 
leaves, that the country be a good neighbor, that they must recognize 
that a future government must include a representative from all of 
    We listened very carefully to the comments coming out of the 
Northern Alliance today. And they made it very clear they had

[[Page 1655]]

no intention of occupying Kabul. That's what they said. I have seen 
reports, which you refer to, and I also saw a report that said, on their 
way out of town, the Taliban was wreaking havoc on the citizenry of 
Kabul. And if that be the case--I haven't had it verified one way or the 
other, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. After all, the Taliban 
has been wreaking havoc on the entire country for over a decade. This 
has been on of the most repressive regimes in the history of mankind. 
But we will continue to work with our Northern Alliance--with the 
Northern Alliance commanders to make sure they respect the human rights 
of the people that they are liberating.
    I also saw reports--and I think President Putin mentioned this 
today, as well--that in some of the northern cities, there was great 
joyous--a wonderful, joyous occasion as the citizens were free, free 
from repression, free from a dictatorial government. But we are both 
mindful, particularly mindful of the need for us to work with our 
Northern Alliance friends to treat people with respect.
    President Putin. All our actions were aimed at liberating the 
northern parts of Afghanistan and the capital of Afghanistan, liberate 
from the Taliban regime. And any military action is accompanied not only 
by the military resistance but also an information resistance, what we 
are witnessing right now, exactly.
    We tend to forget now the destruction of the cultural heritage of 
humankind. We tend to forget now the atrocities by Taliban. And we are 
talking less than usual of the Taliban harboring international 
terrorism. The information that Northern Alliance are shooting--are 
shooting the prisoners of war was launched a few days ago. The Northern 
Alliance was not in Kabul a few days ago; they were liberating northern 
parts of the country.
    And for those who do not know, I will tell, the northern part of the 
country is inhabited by the ethnic groups represented in the Northern 
Alliance; I mean, Uzbeks and Tajiks. It is very difficult for me to 
imagine them shooting their own population. I utterly exclude this. If 
there are any instances in the course of the military action of the 
violation of human rights and treatment of the prisoners of war, we must 
investigate and take action. But we need proof.
    Talking of this, we should not forget the things that we see: the 
way people meet advancing Northern Alliance troops, liberating the 
cities and villages of the Taliban; the women getting rid of chadors and 
burning them. And this, I would like you, ladies and gentlemen of the 
press, to pay attention to.
    Thank you.

Possible Visit to Russia/Nuclear Arms Reduction

    Q. Specific numbers were mentioned here with regard to the 
reductions of offensive weapons. When, and if at all, one could expect 
that such specific numbers made public be substantiated by some papers, 
maybe during a possible visit by President Bush to Moscow? And by the 
way, when could this visit take place?
    President Bush. Got to get invited first. [Laughter]
    Do you want to start?
    President Putin. President Bush is aware of that, and I would like 
to reiterate: He has an open invitation to visit the Russian Federation, 
with an official working or a private visit, in any format, at any time 
convenient for him. I mean, the best time would be during the time of 
the beginning of the year, White Nights in St. Petersburg. [Laughter] Of 
course, the official part would start in Moscow, in the capital of the 
Russian Federation.
    But as for the business part, I think that before that time, our 
advisers will continue working. And we, for our part, for the Russian 
part, are prepared to present all our agreements in a treaty form, 
including the issues of verification and control.
    President Bush. I think it's interesting to note that a new 
relationship based upon trust and cooperation is one that doesn't need 
endless hours of arms control discussions. I can remember watching the 
news years ago and seeing that people would sit at tables for hours and 
hours and hours trying to reach reduced levels of nuclear armament.
    My attitude is: Here's what we can live with. And so I've announced 
a level that we're going to--that we'll stick by. To me, that's how you 
approach a relationship that

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is changed and different. And we'd be glad to--and I looked the man in 
the eye and shook his hand, but if we need to write it down on a piece 
of paper, I'll be glad to do that. But that's what our Government is 
going to do over the next 10 years.
    And we don't need an arms control agreement or an arms control--let 
me say this--we don't need arms control negotiations to reduce our 
weaponry in a significant way. And today you've now heard for the first 
time the level that I think is commensurate with the spirit of reducing 
our own weaponry, and at the same time, keeping the peace.

ABM Treaty

    Q. You mentioned vast discussions on the ABM Treaty. What progress 
are you making? And are you convinced you won't have to withdraw from 
the treaty now?
    President Bush. Well, I'm convinced that the treaty is outdated, and 
we need to move beyond it. And we're having discussions along those 
lines. We had good discussions today; we had good discussions in 
Shanghai; we had good discussions in Slovenia; and we'll have good 
discussions in Crawford. This is obviously a subject that's got a lot of 
ramifications to it. I clearly heard what the President has had to say 
and his view of the ABM Treaty. He's heard what I've had to say, and 
we'll continue working it.
    But my position is, is that it is a piece of paper that's codified a 
relationship that no longer exists, codified a hateful relationship. And 
now we've got a friendly relationship. And I think we need to have a new 
strategic framework that reflects the new relationship, based upon trust 
and cooperation. But we'll continue to work it.

Freedom of the Press

    Q. A question to President Bush. His advisers expressed concern over 
the situation with the freedom of speech in Russia. But after September 
11th, it would seem to me that the situation is changing somewhat in the 
United States, too. There are special rules for covering anti-terrorist 
operation, bin Laden is denied any opportunity to present his views in 
the media--quite appropriately, in my view--and so on and so forth. The 
authority of the special services have been extended, and there have 
been rumors that some of your members of your administration went to 
Hollywood explaining to them a few things. Where is the line in the sand 
where--beyond which it is impossible to cross, delineating a voluntary 
restraint on the part of the media and----
    President Bush. Yes. First of all, I have been trying to tame our 
press corps ever since I got into politics, and I've failed miserably. 
[Laughter] They get to express their opinions, sometimes in the form of 
news--[laughter]--any way they want to.
    I asked them the other day, ``Would it be okay if I cut a 30-minute 
tape, a piece of propaganda? No questions. Just here--here it is; here's 
30 minutes of me talking. Please run it not only across your airwaves 
but run it internationally, if you don't mind. I've got something to say 
about the conflict and our fight against evil.'' They said, no, they're 
not going to do that. If I'm going to have to get on the news, they've 
got to ask me questions.
    And so we extended the same courtesy to Usama bin Laden. He doesn't 
get to just cut a 30-minute tape, where he may be calling his soldiers 
to action, where he is definitely condemning all Jews, Christians, 
threatening individuals, to be able to put a 30-minute propaganda tape 
on the free airwaves. And we made that suggestion. We didn't dictate; we 
just suggested. And some of the news organizations--or all the news 
organizations readily agreed that was a responsible posture to take. And 
for that, I'm grateful.
    But the press in America has never been stronger and never been 
freer and never been more vibrant--sometimes to my chagrin and a lot of 
times to my delight. But whoever thinks that I have the capability or my 
government has the capability of reining in this press corps simply 
doesn't understand the American way.
    President Putin. I would also offer a couple of words. Today, giving 
a rostrum to international terrorists would be equal to giving an 
opportunity to--[inaudible]--newspapers of the Second World War times 
to--an opportunity to print Dr. Goebbels' articles. This question could 
be turned in the following way: What is the limit and what is the 
measure of giving an opportunity to the terrorists and destructive 
element to use

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media in pursuit of their antihuman, inhuman objectives? Let's look at 
it this way.

Situation in Afghanistan

    Q. Yes, sir, Mr. President, thank you. If I could return to the 
situation in Afghanistan, where the concern seems to be a potential 
breakdown in civil order and a possible dramatic increase in civil 
conflict between the tribes in the Northern Alliance and other groups, 
which President Putin's country has experience with, what specifically 
can be done in the next several days to ensure the safety of the 
citizens of Kabul? And does the Northern Alliance, now that they've 
taken that city, enjoy pride of place at the bargaining table in the 
future of Afghanistan?
    President Bush. There is no preferential place at the bargaining 
table. All people will be treated the same. That's what we're working 
with our friends the Russians on. That's the concept we're working on 
with the U.N. And that's only fair. That's been the vision all along. 
That's been the vision we talked about in Shanghai. It's the vision we 
have shared again today.
    Secondly, I repeat, the Northern Alliance, with whom President Putin 
has got some influence and I've got some influence, has told us both 
they have no intention of occupying--and they've said this publicly--
they intend not to occupy Kabul, which is fine. That's the way it ought 
to be. And we will continue to work with their commanders. We've got 
troops there with their commanders, and we will continue to urge 
    Again, I think before we jump to conclusions, we want to make sure 
we understand what the facts are, because the evacuating army has been 
one that has held this country--has terrorized this country for a long 
period of time. But any--regardless of that, any--any--army, advancing 
or retreating, needs to treat people with respect. And we will continue 
to work that they do so.
    President Putin. Well, the thing is that the Northern Alliance did 
not take Kabul by storm. The Northern Alliance is looming over--has been 
looming over Kabul for a long time. That was our mutual agreement with 
President Bush. And suddenly, they discovered, all of a sudden, that 
Kabul had been abandoned, and they had to insert there certain security 
elements to prevent looting and robberies and murders. There was 
complete lawlessness in that city, and the situation must be put under 
control, and it was very difficult. It would be very difficult for us if 
we--to meet with the Northern Alliance leaders to tell them that they've 
negated their obligation.
    The city of Kabul was abandoned by Taliban. They were trying to 
preserve their manpower and their equipment, a very cunning move on the 
part of Taliban. Maybe, technically, their decision was right, but we 
should not be deluded on that score. Quite a serious amount of work is 
still ahead. They did not disappear; they just moved out of the city, a 
few kilometers from there. And I am absolutely in agreement with the 
President on the need to follow the developments with a view to 
preventing abuses of human rights and maltreatment of the POWs, although 
the line we agreed upon has not been yet reached.
    Dear colleagues, the final question.

Pakistan/Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

    Q. Two questions to two Presidents. Mr. Bush, what is your 
evaluation of the situation in Pakistan, which was always in the sphere 
of influence of the United States, and whether there are any dangers 
that the forces up in opposition to General Musharraf would gain control 
of the nuclear weapons?
    And to President Putin, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan made available 
their airbases and their air corridors to the United States Armed 
Forces, giving the green light. Can you tell us whether you gave a green 
light to that? Aren't you apprehensive of the struggle for power and 
influence in that area?
    President Bush. I had a very good dinner with President Musharraf 
last Saturday night in New York City. It's the first time I had met him. 
My Secretary of State had met him in Pakistan, as had my Secretary of 
Defense and other officials in my administration. All of us came away 
with our respect for President Musharraf and our desire to make sure 
that his administration is successful in Pakistan.
    The best way to make sure that terrorists do not end up with nuclear 
weaponry in that

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part of the world is for President Musharraf to provide a stable 
government and to fulfill what he said he would do, which is to have 
elections in a short period of time. And I believe he is--he deserves 
our Nation's support, and so we are putting together a economic package 
that will help him with debt, help him with the expenses of the ongoing 
operations, help him with trade. And we will continue a dialog with the 
Pakistan leader, with the full intent of finding ways we can cooperate, 
in order to bring stability to that part of the world.
    President Putin. With regard to the possible redrawing of the 
spheres of influence and the enhanced American influence in the central 
Asia, I would like to say the following: I am more concerned with the 
presence of the terrorist training camps in the northern Afghanistan, 
who send guerrillas to the Caucasus--have been sending in the recent 
years. After Ahmed Shah Massoud was killed, I had a very, very sad 
feeling. That was prior to September 11th. And I told President Bush at 
that time that perhaps some serious developments are in the making. And 
this is concerning--this concerns me very much.
    If we look at the relationship between the Russian Federation and 
the United States from the old standpoint, distrust and the enmity, 
that's one thing. If we are looking through the prism of partnership and 
alliance, we have nothing to be afraid of. This is one thing. Secondly, 
one shouldn't forget that both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are independent 
states and decide, therefore, in policies independently, who cooperate 
with and at which level.
    But focusing my attention at the following circumstance, and I 
related it to President Bush quite frankly--we've just mentioned 
President Musharraf. We all should support President Musharraf. This 
would be the right thing to do. And we agree with this, and we accept 
this. It is also true that American flags are being burned in the 
streets of the Pakistani cities; one should not leave that unnoticed.
    In Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the Muslim countries, too, American 
flags are not being burned. Moreover, those countries cooperate, for the 
first time, so openly and so consistently with the United States and 
with the international alliance against terrorism. Being Muslim 
countries with their own problems, none of them are squeaking or crying 
foul; they are trying to address their own problems on their own.
    And in these conditions, the continued application of Jackson-Vanik 
amendment to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and so on and so forth, one 
wouldn't call it justified and just. We need to and want to build a new 
relationship in the new 21st century.
    Thank you very much.
    President Bush. Thank you.

Note: The President's news conference began at 1:50 p.m. in the East 
Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President 
Putin's wife, Lyudmila; Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov of 
Russia; Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; 
and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. The President also referred 
to the June 13 Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire and security plan 
negotiated by CIA Director George J. Tenet; and the Report by the Sharm 
al-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, which was chaired by George J. 
Mitchell. President Putin referred to Northern Alliance leader Ahmed 
Shah Massoud, victim of a September 9 attack by suicide bombers. 
President Putin spoke in Russian, and his remarks were translated by an