September 20, 2020
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'Our Disagreements Will Not Divide Us'

US President Bush and Russian President Putin failed to reach an agreement on missile defense but put on a good show for the Crawford Students in Texas, USA

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'Our Disagreements Will Not Divide Us'

President Bush: Thank you all.  Sit down, please.   Thank you all for that warm welcome. This is a great day for Central Texas. It's a great day because Laura and I have had the honor of welcoming the Putins to our beloved state. It's a great day because it's raining. (Laughter. )

It's a great day, as well, because I just got off the telephone with two Central Texas women, Heather Mercer, who used to live in Crawford -- (applause) -- and Dayna Curry. They both said to say thanks to everybody for their prayers. They realize there is a good and gracious God. Their spirits were high and they love America. (Applause. )

I remember clearly when I stood up in front of the Congress and said we have three conditions to the Taliban. One, release those who are being detained; two, destroy terrorist training camps so that country can never be used for terror again either against us or against Russia, for example; three, bring al Qaeda to justice. 

Yesterday I was able to report to the nation that one of those conditions had been met, with the release and rescue of the humanitarian aid workers. And make no mistake about it, the other two will be met -- particularly bringing al Qaeda to justice. (Applause. )

I wanted to bring President Putin to Crawford. I wanted him to see a state that Laura and I love. I particularly wanted to be able to introduce him to the citizens of Crawford, because this part of the state represents the independent-minded nature of Texans. It represents the hard-working Texans, people who have great values -- faith and family. The people here, Mr.  President, love their country, and they like countries that work with America to keep the peace. (Applause. )

We had a great dinner last night; we had a little Texas barbecue, pecan pie -- (laughter) -- a little Texas music. And I think the President really enjoyed himself. I told him he was welcome to come back next August -- (laughter) -- to get a true taste of Crawford. (Laughter. )He said, fine, and maybe you'd like to go to Siberia in the winter. (Laughter and applause. )

It's my honor also to introduce President Putin to Crawford. I bet a lot of folks here, particularly the older folks, never dreamt that an American President would be bringing the Russian President to Crawford, Texas. (Laughter. )A lot of people never really dreamt that an American President and a Russian President could have established the friendship that we have. 

We were enemies for a long period of time. When I was in high school, Russia was an enemy. Now the high school students can know Russia as a friend; that we're working together to break the old ties, to establish a new spirit of cooperation and trust so that we can work together to make the world more peaceful. 

Russia has been a strong partner in the fight against terrorism. It's an interesting story for me to report. I was on Air Force One the day of the attack, working my way back to Washington via Louisiana and Nebraska -- (laughter) -- making sure that the President was safe and secure. The first phone call I got from a foreign leader was President Putin. He told us that he recognized that I had put our troops on alert. I did so because, for the first time in a long period of time, America was under attack. It only happened once -- twice, I guess -- the War of 1812 and Pearl Harbor. 

In the old days when America put their troops on attack, Russia would have responded and put her troops on alert, which would have caused the American President maybe to put a higher alert, and Russia a higher alert, and all of a sudden, we would have had two conflicts instead of one. But not this President. This President recognized we're entering into a new era and his call was, don't worry, we know what you're up against, we stand with you and we will not put our troops on alert, for the good of the United States of America. (Applause. )

I brought him to my ranch because, as the good people in this part of the world know, that you only usually invite your friends into your house.  Oh, occasionally, you let a salesman in, or two, but -- (laughter. )But I wanted the Putins to see how we live. And even though we changed addresses, our hearts are right here in our home state. 

We've got a lot to do together. We've had great discussions in Washington, as well as here in Texas. We're both pledging to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons, offensive weapons, we have in order to make the world more secure. We're talking about ways to cooperate in anti-terrorism and anti-proliferation. We're talking about ways to make sure our economies can grow together. What we're talking about is a new relationship -- a relationship that will make your lives better when you get older, and it will make your kids' lives better as they grow up. 

But in order to have a new relationship, it requires a new style of leader. And it's my honor to welcome to Central Texas a new style of leader, a reformer, a man who loves his country as much as I love mine; a man who loves his wife as much as I love mine; a man who loves his daughters as much as I love my daughters; and a man who is going to make a huge difference in making the world more peaceful, by working closely with the United States -- please welcome Vladimir Putin. (Applause. )

President Putin: Dear friends, when we were riding here in the presidential car, I'll divulge to you a small secret of ours. The First Lady of the United States told me, you know, some kind of special people live here. These are people with a special kind of pride of their position and of their heritage. And the more I come to know the President of the United States, the more I realize that the First Lady was right -- he is right from the heart of Texas and he is a Texan. And, herself, being a wise woman, she complimented her husband in an indirect and very sensible way. (Laughter and applause. )

My wife and myself are also trying to help ourselves as we go along this life. And it gives me pleasure to introduce my First Lady, my wife, Lyudmila Putin. (Applause. )

And like President Bush did, I would also like to congratulate three Texans and two people from Waco, with the liberation by the U. S.  official forces and their withdrawal from the land of Afghanistan. (Applause. )

Of course, it is very important to be born under a happy star and to have destiny facing your way. And, indeed, I'm in agreement with the President, perhaps God was looking quite positively on this. 

But there are different approaches to addressing such kind of problem.  There are people deeply religious who usually say that God knows what is to befall a nation, a people, or a person. But there are people no less devoted to God, but who still believe that the people, a person should also take care of their own destiny and lives. And it gives me great pleasure to deal and to work with President Bush, who is a person, a man who does what he says. (Applause. )

And I congratulate those who have been liberated by the Armed Forces, and their relatives. And also, I would like to congratulate on this, President Bush. (Applause. )

On our way here, we didn't expect at all that things would be so warm and homey as they were at the ranch of President Bush here. Yesterday, we had a surprise, but today's meeting is yet another and very pleasant surprise, indeed, for us. Indeed, in any country, the backbone of any country is not only the people who live in the capitals, but also and mostly, the people who live hundreds and thousands of miles from the capital. 

It is especially pleasant and pleasing for me to be here in your high school. And my being here brings me to remembering those distinguished Russian Americans who contributed so much to the development and prosperity of this nation -- including a world-known composer and musician, Rachmaninoff; a well-known designer and inventor of aircraft, helicopters and airplanes, Sikorsky; and a world-renowned economist and Nobel Prize winner, Leontiev; and many others. And it is extremely pleasant for me to know that here in this room we have some people, boys and girls from Russia who have come here to study. (Applause. )

Of course, serious people work in the capital cities and much depends on them. But in any circumstances and in any situation, what they must do is to fulfill the will of their people. And being here I can feel the will of these people, the will to cooperate with the Russian Federation, the will to cooperate with Russia. And I can assure you that the Russian people fully share this commitment and is also committed to fully cooperating with the American people. (Applause. )

Together, we can achieve quite a lot, especially if we are helped in this by such a young and active and beautiful generation as the one we are meeting with now. 

Thank you very much. (Applause. )

President Bush: Okay. The President and I have agreed to take a few questions from the students. I figured this would be a pretty good opportunity for you all to ask --

President Putin: Only questions. No math questions, please.  (Laughter. )

President Bush: Good idea. Particularly no fuzzy math questions.  (Laughter and applause. )

Anybody got any questions?Yes, ma'am. Hold on, we've got a mike coming so everybody gets to hear it, too. What is your name and what grade are you in?

Q:  I'm Amanda Lemmons (phonetic. )I'm a senior. 

President Bush: Senior?Good. 

Q:  Have you decided on whether you're going to go to Russia or not?

President Bush: Well -- (laughter) -- the President invited me and I accepted. We haven't figured out a time yet. But, in that I'm from Texas and kind of like the warm weather, I was hoping to wait a couple of months.  (Laughter. )I'm really looking forward to going to Russia. I would hope that I could not only go to Moscow, but maybe go to the President's home town of St.  Petersburg, which they tell me is one of the most spectacular cities in Europe. But I look forward to going. I think it is going to be a very important trip. 

We have met four times now. We have made a lot of progress on coming together on some key issues. There is more work to be done. I believe the U. S. -Russian relationship is one of the most important relationships that our country can have. And the stronger the relationship is, the more likely it is the world will be at peace, and the more likely it is that we'll be able to achieve a common objective, which is to defeat the evil ones that try to terrorize governments such as the United States and Russia. And we must defeat the evil ones in order for you all to grow up in a peaceful and prosperous world. (Applause. )

Okay. Wait for the mike. I'm kind of getting hard of hearing. 

Q:  My name is Jana Heller -- (phonetic) -- and I'm in the eighth grade. And I was wondering what is President Putin's favorite thing about Texas. 

President Bush: What does he think about Texas?

Q:  Yes, sir. 

President Bush: Oh, favorite thing. Favorite thing. Crawford, of course. (Laughter. )

President Putin: We in Russia have known for a long time that Texas is the most important state in the United States. (Laughter and applause. ) But, seriously speaking, we in Russia somehow tend to know about Texas rather better than about the rest of the United States somehow. Except maybe for Alaska, which we sold to you. (Laughter and applause. )

In my view, first of all, because, like in Russia, here in Texas the oil business is quite well-developed and we have numerous contacts in this area. And we have very many contacts in such areas as high-tech and the exploration of space. And the fact that the parliament of the state of Texas declared April the 12th -- the day when Yuri Gagarin, the first man to fly to space, accomplished this -- as a state holiday, like it is a national holiday in Russia, is yet another testimony of the closeness of our outlook and achievements. (Applause. )

President Bush: Name and grade?

Q:  I'm Brian Birch -- phonetic. )I'm a senior here. In what ways has this summit helped bring Russia and the U. S.  closer together?

President Bush:  Well, first of all -- his question is in what ways has the summit brought us together. Well, in order for countries to come together, the first thing that must happen is leaders must make up their mind that they want this to happen. And the more I get to know President Putin, the more I get to see his heart and soul, and the more I know we can work together in a positive way. 

And so any time leaders can come together and sit down and talk about key issues in a very open and honest way, it will make relations stronger in the long run. 

There's no doubt, the United States and Russia won't agree on every issue. But you probably don't agree with your mother on every issues.  (Laughter. )You still lover her, though, don't you?Well, even though we don't agree on every issue, I still respect him and like him as a person.  The other thing is, is that the more we talk about key issues, the more likely it is we come to an understanding. And so the summit enabled us to continue a very personal dialogue. As well, we agreed to some significant changes in our relationship. 

I, after long consultations with people inside our government, I announced that our government was going to reduce our nuclear arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads over the next decade. That's a tangible accomplishment. I shared that information with President Putin. He, too, is going to make a declaration at some point in time. 

In other words, this particular summit has made us closer because we've agreed on some concrete steps, as well, specific things we can do together. We're working on counter-proliferation, which is an incredibly important issue, to make sure that arms and potential weapons of mass destruction do not end up in the hands of people who will be totally irresponsible, people that hate either one of our nations.  

And so we made great progress. And I look forward to future meetings with the President because there's more to do, to make sure the relationship outlives our term in office. It's one thing for he and me to have a personal relationship. The key is that we establish a relationship between our countries strong enough that will endure beyond our presidencies. And that's important so that in the long run, as you come up and as your kids grow up, that Russia and the United States will cooperate in ways that will make the world more stable and more peaceful, and ways in which we can address the common threats. And terrorism and evil are common threats to both our governments, and will be tomorrow, as well as today, unless we do something about it now.  And that's exactly what we're doing.  (Applause. )

Yes, ma'am. Ask the President a question. The other one. 

Q:  We, the women of America, are very appreciative of all the rights we have. So, with the fall of the Taliban government, how do you think that women's rights will affect Afghanistan?

President Bush: How do I think what?

Q:  How do you think the fall of the Taliban government will affect women's rights?

President Bush:  Yes, I appreciate that. I'm going to answer it quickly, and then I want Vladimir to discuss that. He knows about women's rights and the importance of them because he's raising two teenage daughters. (Laughter. )He and I share something in common. 

I'll tell you an interesting story, and then I'm going to let him speak about it. First of all, there's no question the Taliban is the most repressive, backward group of people we have seen on the face of the Earth in a long period of time, including and particularly how they treat women.  (Applause. )

But President Putin, I think it would be interesting for him to discuss the concept of women's rights inside of Russia and his vision of how Afghanistan treats women. But I'll tell you an interesting story. 

So we are getting ready to have the first press conference we had together in Slovenia. And by the way, there was I think a thousand reports there -- it seemed like a thousand. (Laughter. )And we were walking in.  I said, say, I understand you've got two daughters. He said, yes; he said, they're teenagers. I said, I've been through that myself. (Laughter. )I said, who did you name them for?He said, well, we named them for our mothers, my mother and my mother-in-law. I said, that's interesting -- that's exactly what Laura and I did, too. We named our girls for our -- my mother and Laura's mom. And I said, gosh, the thing I want most in life is for those girls to be able to grow up in a free world and prosper and realize their dreams. He said, that's exactly what I hope, as well. 

There's a lot in common, even though -- between our countries, even though it's a long way away. And it all starts with the human element, the thing that matters most in life, and that is our faiths and our families and our respected loves as dads for our daughters. 

But anyway, I think it would be appropriate for President Putin to talk about women in Russia and his keen desire, like mine, to free the women of Afghanistan, as well. 

President Putin:  I do agree with the President that, indeed, such a problem does exist in the world. And in Afghanistan this phenomenon has taken an extreme form, and the disrespect of human rights has acquired extreme dimensions. Overall, women in Afghanistan are basically not treated as people. 

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