Press Conference with President George W. Bush on Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Excerpts)

April 28, 2005

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  • Russia

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Q: Mr. President, it was four years ago when you first met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. You said you looked into his eyes and you saw his soul. You'll also be meeting with the Russian leader in about a week or so.

What do you think of Putin now that he has expressed a willingness to supply weapons to outlaw regimes, specifically his recent comments that he said he would provide short-range missiles to Syria and nuclear components to Iran?

BUSH: Yes. First, just on a broader kind of in a broader sense, I had a long talk with Vladimir there in Slovakia about democracy and about the importance of democracy.

And as you remember at the press conference, or, if you weren't there, somebody will remember, he stood up and said he strongly supports democracy. I take him for his word.

And we'll continue to work. Condi Rice, our secretary of state, just came back and she briefed me that she had a very good discussion with Vladimir about the merits of democracy, about the need to listen to the people and have a government that's responsive.

Now, we're working closely with the Russians on the issue of vehicle-mounted weaponry to Syria. We didn't appreciate that, but we made ourselves clear.

As to Iran, what Russia has agreed to do is to send highly enriched uranium to a nuclear civilian power plant and then collect that uranium after it's used for electricity, power purposes. That's what they've decided to do.

And I appreciate that gesture.

See, what they recognize is that what America recognizes and what Great Britain, France and Germany recognize, is that we can't trust the Iranians when it comes to enriching uranium; that they should not be allowed to enrich uranium.

And what the Iranians have said is, Don't we deserve to have a nuclear power industry just like you do?

I'm, kind of, wondering why they need one, since they've got all the oil. But nevertheless, others in the world say, Well, maybe that's their right to have their own civilian nuclear power industry.

And what Russia said: Fine, we'll provide you the uranium. We'll enrich it for you and provide it to you and then we'll collect it.

And I appreciate that gesture. So I think Vladimir was trying to help there. I know Vladimir Putin understands the dangers of an Iran with a nuclear weapon. And most of the world understands that as well.

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