Sunday, November 13, 2011

Obama's Remarks After Meeting with Medvedev at APEC

Hale Koa Hotel
Honolulu, Hawaii

3:16 P.M. HAST

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I want to welcome my friend, Dmitry Medvedev, to my birthplace, Honolulu, Hawaii. My understanding is that he’s been spotted in a Hawaiian shirt walking and enjoying the good weather. And so I don’t know if anybody got pictures of this, but I’m glad that he’s enjoying himself so far.

President Medvedev and I have I think successfully established the reset of U.S.-Russia relationships -- the U.S.-Russian relationship over the last several years. And it has borne concrete fruit in the form of the New START Treaty, the 123 Agreement, the work that we did together imposing sanctions on Iran, and most recently, the efforts that we’ve made on Russia’s WTO accession.

Today, we had a wide-ranging discussion. It focused on a number of security issues where the U.S. and Russia have a significant interest. We discussed Afghanistan and our plan to transition, and the importance all the regional parties assisting the Afghan government in stabilizing the country for the benefit of the Afghan people.

We discussed Iran, and reaffirmed our intention to work to shape a common response so that we can move Iran to follow its international obligations when it comes to its nuclear program.

We discussed a number of world trouble spots, including Syria. And we discussed the importance of APEC and our common interest in assuring global growth and increased opportunity, business investment, commercial ties, and most importantly, job creation in both our countries.

Although it’s not official yet, the invitation has been extended to Russia to join the WTO, as a testament to the hard work of President Medvedev and his team. We believe this is going to be good for the United States, for the world, as well as for Russia, because it will provide increased opportunities for markets in which we can sell goods and products and services, as well as purchase good, products and services without some of the traditional barriers.

And so we very much appreciate the cooperation and partnership that we forged around this issue. We think it’s an example of the importance that both countries place on economic reform and economic growth.

And on my part, on my administration’s part, this is going to be a good time for us to consult closely with Congress about ending the application of Jackson-Vanik to Russia, so that the U.S. businesses can take advantage of Russia’s membership in the WTO, and we can expand commerce and create jobs here in the United States. So those consultations will be taking place in the weeks and months to come.

So, President Medvedev, thank you again for a constructive conversation. But more importantly, thank you for several years of constructive engagement with the United States.

PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV: Aloha. (As interpreted.) Well, I would like to start by thanking Barack for this brilliant idea of hosting the APEC Summit here in his birthplace, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Not only is it a beautiful location but it also is a great opportunity to discuss all sorts of issues like we did today.

But today, my friend, Barack, and I discussed not only weather but also issues he outlined just recently. But I would like to start by thanking President Obama and his team for his active support and engagement in our accession process to the WTO. Moreover, we have never received similar support from any previous administration, and this is probably the explanation of why we’ve been acceding to the Organization since 1993. As has been recognized just now, Russia’s accession is good not only for Russia itself or for the U.S. or other countries, but for the entire system of trade relations in the world.

Our global economy, global finance is surviving not the best of times. So the more coordinated actions we take, the less there are trade barriers. The clearer instructions we give to our trading ministries, the sooner we will be able to overcome recession, which, unfortunately, still continues globally. And the easier it will be to solve our unemployment, which remains our major problem.

This is why the summit of Asia Pacific region countries is of great importance, so that we can coordinate and integrate our ideas. And I am sure that it will be very successful at the highest possible level.

Today, apart from Russian accession to the WTO and the need to review Jackson-Vanik, we discussed with President Obama a number of international issues. I’m referring to the discussions we had about the Middle East, Afghanistan, Syria. We also spoke about Iran nuclear program, and discussed a number of other issues, including European missile defense. We agreed to continue a search for possible solutions, though we understand that our positions remain far apart. But over the recent years, we achieved progress on matters where there was no progress. Barack has just recalled the START treaty. If we manage to emphasize similar efforts on European missile defense, just like other issues, I’m sure we’ll succeed.

I would like to express a full satisfaction with the past and present relations with the U.S. President. Our relations, and that’s most important, have always been characterized by trust, and it is only when trust is present that we can resolve difficult tasks -- and we did resolve some, although, much remains to be done.

And I thank President Obama again for the invitation.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.