The 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting ended in Danang
Question: One of the summit’s mysteries was whether you and Mr Trump would hold talks. As far as I understand, you have managed to talk “on the fly.” Could you please tell us what you talked about and why a full-fledged meeting, full-scale talks failed to materialise?
Vladimir Putin: Regarding a separate meeting. First, this had to do with Mr Trump’s schedule, my schedule and certain protocol formalities which our teams, unfortunately, failed to coordinate. But they will be disciplined for that.
However, nothing terrible has happened, we talked during today’s meeting, we communicated and, essentially, we have discussed everything we wanted to. What did we talk about?
We talked about the matters discussed at the APEC summit, we talked about how new opportunities opened up by the digital economy can be utilised in developing economic relations. And as you know, we also agreed a joint statement on fighting terrorism in Syria.
In this respect, I mean the former and the latter, we can state that the work on the APEC summit’s sidelines was useful and successful because it was no easy to arrive at the statement on Syria. Our experts were working on it ahead of the summit, and the final revision began yesterday.
Foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Tillerson dealt with issues that arose after the text was submitted by the experts, and the US President and I approved this document today. I think it is important because it stresses some absolutely fundamental matters.
First, it is the ongoing fight with terrorism. It is also vitally important for the United States in view of the latest tragic events there related to terrorist encroachments. It is important for us, for a nation that has been facing this problem for a long time, and for the whole international community. The fight against terror will go on, and it will go on through joint efforts.
As to Syria, I think it crucial that we have confirmed the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We have agreed that after completing the fight against terror, liquidating the terrorist threat on that territory, we will move on along the road of political settlement under the auspices of the United Nations. You can see the details of the statement. I think it has already been published.
Question: Mr President, what do you think of the so-called anti-Russia investigations which seem to be gathering momentum in the United States? US administration officials are accused of colluding with Russia, and we hear that Trump’s election campaign members supposedly met with your niece. How do you assess the situation? This is question one.
Vladimir Putin: I have commented on that a number of times. I think that everything connected with the so-called “Russian dossier” in the United States is currently a manifestation of the ongoing internal political strife.
I am certainly aware of the particular things you mentioned, although it is only yesterday that I found out from Mr Peskov about some connections between my relatives and US administration officials. I do not know anything about that – absolutely nothing. I think this is just nonsense.
Regarding the trade minister, I think it concerns the US Secretary of Commerce. He used to run a business before, and he was a shareholder or an owner of a multinational shipping company, so he would sign contracts with shippers from around the world, maybe with Russian ones as well. But this is nothing more than business.
It has never had anything to do with politics. I don’t even know his name, I heard it for the first time a short while ago. So there is nothing to investigate here. But if there is a will, of course, one can dig around for a sensation. There are none, no sensations there.
As for Mr Manafort, they somehow also try to tie him to Russia. The only connection is that as head and, probably, owner of an American PR agency he signed contracts, as a businessman working in this field. He also worked in Ukraine, including with former President Yanukovych.
But I do not understand how this is related to Russia in any way. Nothing, there is absolutely nothing here, just empty talk and a will to grasp at any hunch to and use it against the current US President. But let me repeat, this has nothing to do with us, let them deal with it on their own.