Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday had a 90-minute meeting with visiting US National Security Adviser John Bolton. The sides agreed that dialogue between the two nations is needed, despite the gaps in their positions.
Bearing this in mind, the Russian leader suggested a meeting with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, be organized on the sidelines of the next international event in Paris on November 11.
“Naturally, it would be useful to offer direct dialogue with the president of the United States, first of all, on the sidelines of upcoming international events, say, in Paris,” Putin said, obviously referring to the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. “Of course, if the American side is interested in these contacts.”
Bolton reassured Putin that President Trump would be glad to see him. He agreed that dialogue between Moscow and Washington would be useful, despite the existing gaps.
Putin’s last meeting with Trump and their only full-scale bilateral talks were held in Helsinki on July 16. Before that, the two leaders had a number of brief meetings on the sidelines of international summits.
The Russian leader noted that Moscow is surprised by unfriendly steps the United States has taken following a quite constructive summit in Helsinki in July.
“The way I see it, it was a useful, at times tough conversation, but in the final count a constructive one,” Putin said about his talks with US President Donald Trump in Finland. “Honestly, we are sometimes surprised to see the United States take absolutely unprovoked steps towards Russia that we cannot regard as friendly. We even refrain from retaliation practically to any move of yours. Yet all this goes on and on.”
Nevertheless, according to the Russian president, trade turnover between Russia and the United States keeps growing despite Washington’s anti-Russian sanctions. “Despite all of your ‘efforts’ trade turnover between our countries keeps growing, however strange this might seem,” Putin said. “Last year it was up 16% and this year, 8%.”
“True, in real terms this is very little, but at the same time such trend does exist. Incidentally, the US has a surplus,” he said.
Putin pointed out that mutual investment had grown. “Russian investment in the American economy are twice that of US investment in Russia,” he said.
Apart from that, Putin suggested exchanging opinions on strategic issues and the issues of disarmament.
“We know and we talk much about the US unilateral withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile treaty and recently we have heard about the US intention to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” he said. “We know about the doubts in the [US] administration about the need to extend the New START Treaty and we hear about the intention to deploy some elements of the missile shield in outer space.”
Bolton, in turn, said he hoped he could answer Putin’s questions.
Hawk or dove?
At the beginning of the meeting, Putin jokingly offered his interpretation of the Great Seal of the United States. “As far as I remember, the Great Seal of the United States features a bald eagle holding a bundle of 13 arrows in its left talon and an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives, as a symbol of peaceful policy, in its right talon,” he said. “My question is: has the bald eagle pecked all the olives leaving only arrows?”
In reply, Bolton admitted he had brought no olive branch. “Just as I thought,” Putin said smilingly. With this said, Bolton pointed that the eagle is holding the olive branch in its right talon this way demonstrating its priorities.
Putin recalled that in its beak the eagle holds a scroll with the motto E Pluribus Unum, or “Out of Many, One.” “That is why, despite the different approaches, we can and must try to find these points of contact,” Putin added.