Interview with Dmitry Peskov

Dmitry Peskov is Deputy Press Secretary to the Russian President.  He gave Russia Today his assessement of the early stages of the summit in Kennebunkport, and the prospects over the next couple days.

Russia Today: Can you tell us more about the environment at the dinner? What were the exchanges between the two Presidents?

Dmitry Peskov: Well, first of all I have to say that before that dinner they had a magnificent boat trip. George Bush Senior took his son and President Putin on his boat. It was a fantastic trip and everybody was excited. The overall atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly from the very beginning. The dinner was not business-like, it was a family affair – again very friendly.  They were joking and discussing some family issues, the upcoming elections but not in a policy-like style, in a general way. It was mentioned that the two countries are going to face elections in 2008. The atmosphere was really very relaxed and, due to the unofficial, very private nature of the dinner, I don’t think that I can give more details on it.

RT: The two presidents are expected to get down to business tomorrow.  What can we expect the two presidents to speak about?

D.P.: They will start with a tête-à-tête at breakfast on Monday morning.  That will be continued in negotiations with close aides who were also present at Sunday's dinner. The presidents don’t have any fixed agenda.  We can predict the most pressing issues on both the bilateral and the international agenda which will be touched upon. Certainly, anti-missile defence problems will be discussed very thoroughly. We have heard on different levels from the American side – let’s say a kind of response to the initiative proposed by President Putin -  but of course the initiative was offered by him personally and he would expect President Bush to reply personally. Of course, Iran and the nuclear question is also expected to be discussed.  Kosovo is among the very burning issues set to be discussed, as is the situation in the Middle East.

RT: Is it possible that we could see the two presidents discussing business and mutual investment between the two countries?

D.P.: This is one of the positive aspects of relations between the two countries and is developing without a lot of attention from the two presidents.  You may have noticed that the Wall Street Journal has published a plea from leading businessmen, calling on the  the two Presidents just to bring the political dialogue to the level of trading and economic co-operation.  They're asking for a really relaxed, non-confrontational atmosphere in the political spere, so that a booming trade relationship can develop.

RT: This visit by President Putin is been been seen as an attempt to repair the spoiled relationship.  Earlier we spoke to the Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ,and he used a phrase based on the common American expression – ’if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Would you say that it is really the situation?

D.P.: Well, what is definite is that the sense of crisis is attributable to the media. The press people exaggerate. Of course, the extent of misunderstanding and disagreement  existing in our bilateral relationship is certainly being exaggerated. These disagreements are a natural part of bilateral relations. We have dialogue and we may have disagreements, especially with big countries such as Russia and the U.S.