Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes he repays his Canadian guests, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and her husband, the warm reception they arranged for him in Canada two years ago. This is what he told Mrs. Clarkson during a meeting in the Winter Garden of the Grand Kremlin Palace, held in the presence of the president's wife, Lyudmila Putin, and the governor general's husband, John Ralston Saul.
Mrs. Clarkson's visit attracted a great deal of public attention in Russia, the president said.
"The premier of Canada keeps emphasizing that we're neighbors. That is so, given that we have a common sea, the Arctic Ocean. This accounts for the fact that your visit is somewhat northbound, with many trips to the Polar Regions and the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area," Putin said.
Returning the speech, Mrs. Clarkson echoed Putin's words that Canada and Russia were neighbors through the North Pole. "Our indigenous peoples are similar too, so what we want is not only to show that we're good neighbors but also to display various strata of society, of the Canadian population. Half of our delegation is represented by indigenous peoples, while the other half is made up of politicians, businessmen and artistic people," she stressed. "We have been a successful Federation for almost 150 years. And we understand your vision of a Federation. Being your friends, we are ready to help you out with advice, since a Federation is no simple matter." She also said she had been visiting Moscow as a student in 1968 and would like to see it again to note the changes it had gone through.