PRIME MINISTER PUTIN: (As translated.) Mr. Vice President -- (inaudible) -- there are quite a few things to enjoy in Moscow. And you haven't been here for quite a while. Since you've been here last time, and over this period of time, Moscow and Russia has changed a lot, and for the better I might add.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: I would agree.
PRIME MINISTER PUTIN: (As translated.) You might be interested in getting to know Russia better, visiting other sights and cities. And on top of that, the relationship between our two countries has been developing quite well. Last year, the (inaudible) Russia has grown by 29 percent.
Turning -- we have completed several important things, including seeding for and verification of START III, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. And the major American companies are doing business in Russia and are doing well. To name a few, General Electric, Boeing and Chevron -- virtually all the biggest companies are here.
And it is especially pleasing for us to witness the rise of the presence of big Russian investments between -- again, we are very pleased and very thankful to you for the fact that this has been -- (inaudible) -- and very sensitive areas such as I referred to earlier, use of nuclear energy. And I'm pleased with the fact that all of it has been passed through the procedures of the Foreign Investment Commission, and we are grateful for you for that to happen.
Again, it was very obvious to see the (inaudible) between the U.S. and Russian people is on the right track.
Currently, we are in the process of negotiating the possibility of the visa-free exchange between Russia and the countries of the European Union. The fact of the matter is, the U.S. enjoys this visa-free regime of exchange with virtually all of those countries in Europe.
This will be an important step in development of the Russia-U.S. relationship if we work first to introduce this visa-free regime of exchange between U.S.-Russia rather than European Union and Russia.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Good idea.
PRIME MINISTER PUTIN: (As translated.) Let's look to break all the outdated stereotypes concerning Russia and the U.S. Thus we have turned over a very substantial part of our history during this stage and we have started to have everything new. That would support absolutely before the -- in the relationship between Russia and the U.S.
And with this positive relation on your part, Distinguished Mr. Vice President, such an important person in the U.S. administration with clout (inaudible).
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. Prime Minister, in case you haven't noticed, there's a real difference between being President and Vice President. The very good news is the President and I agree 100 percent on the need to continue to establish a closer and closer relationship.
That's why the very first foreign policy annunciation our administration made was when I made the speech in Munich that it was time to push the reset button and change the atmosphere.
I would view the previous eight years -- did not take advantage of the opportunities that exist for both our countries. It does not really matter how -- it's in our self-interest and I hope in the self-interest of Russia to have our relationship grow.
I've made one observation the last two years, when other countries around the globe have a problem they either go to Moscow or Washington. They don't want to go to the other capitals.
We have an opportunity to build on this over the years. Not only on New START, cooperation in Afghanistan, cooperation on drugs, cooperation in -- a whole range of other areas -- now is the time to focus on the economy.
You mentioned Boeing; yesterday, I met with a group of American and Russian CEOs -- conference. A Russian -- the chairman of a Russian organization, I'll not state it, said that there was reason for American companies to be here because the markets are here and named some other reasons why it was in the interest of American companies.
The chairman of Boeing USA in Russia said, I beg to disagree with my friend. He said the market in China for aircraft is seven times bigger. He said let me tell you why we're here. Russia has the best engineers in the world. Russia has intellectual capital. Russia is a great nation. Your titanium lets the planes fly that you buy.
PRIME MINISTER PUTIN: (As translated.) Allow me to make a point, we have the largest in the world engineering center here in Moscow.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: There's a reason. Mr. Prime Minister, I've been around a long time. The first time I was here -- the second time I was here, I was here meeting with President Brezhnev. We were trying to pass SALT II --