Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry

March 24, 2016

Vladimir Putin received in the Kremlin US Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr Kerry arrived for a meeting with the Russian President after his talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Secretary of State, colleagues,

I would like to heartily welcome all of you here.

We are always glad to host you as your visits take place in a highly businesslike atmosphere and give a chance to advance in resolving serious issues.

When I saw you coming off your plane today and carrying your belongings, I got a bit upset. On the one hand, this is very egalitarian, but, on the other hand, things must be looking blue in the United States if nobody can help the Secretary of State carry his suitcases. But the economy seems to be doing fine and there are no big cuts. Then I thought that you probably have in this case something that you couldn’t trust anyone to carry, something precious, probably money for better bargaining on key issues.

Speaking seriously, we are really glad to see you because – this time I am not joking at all – we usually manage to find some points of contact and relying on them move forward towards resolving bilateral and international issues.

Welcome!

US Secretary of State John Kerry: Mr President, thank you. When we have a private moment, I’ll show you what’s in my briefcase. And I think you’ll be surprised, pleasantly.

Mr President, let me begin by expressing the condolences of President Obama and the people of the United States for the loss of the aircraft the other day, for the crash. I believe a team from our National Transportation Safety Board is willing and ready and has travelled to try to be of assistance. And obviously we are prepared to be helpful in any way that we can.

Mr President, let me begin. First of all, I want to thank you for making time. I know this has been a very busy day, and we are very appreciative for the opportunity to have a serious conversation about serious issues.

It’s fair to say, Mr President, that the serious approach that we have been able to cooperate on has made a difference to the life of people in Syria and to the possibilities of making progress on peace. Most observers thought it was impossible to achieve a cessation of hostilities, and because of the cooperation, both political and military, which we have been able to achieve with some effort, this Sunday will mark one month of the cessation. The people of Syria and the people of the region as a result have literally been able to taste and smell the possibilities of what it means to have a huge reduction in violence and to receive humanitarian assistance.

So, Mr President, I know you have ideas, and you’ve already made a very critical decision with respect to the drawdown of your forces in Syria. And we obviously also have some ideas for how we can now most effectively make progress in Geneva and begin the very serious and difficult work of the transition.

And we also have some ideas, Mr President, for how we could perhaps make faster, greater progress with respect to Ukraine. I know you’re very anxious to address other serious issues, so I look forward very much to the opportunity tonight to be able to find a way forward and frankly, ultimately, see if we can’t rebuild and strengthen the relationship between the United States and Russia by proving that we know how to solve some serious problems together and building from there.

Thank you, Sir.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Secretary of State, we understand that what we have managed to achieve on the Syrian track has only been possible thanks to the position of the political leadership of the United States, the position of President Obama.

I very much hope that your visit will allow us to harmonise our positions as regards further settlement both in Syria and, as you said, in Ukraine.