Bush arrives in Russia for talks with Putin

April 6th, 2008 - 12:31 am ICT by admin  

(Lead)

RIA Novosti
Sochi (Russia), April 5 (RIA Novosti) US President George W. Bush arrived in the southern Russian city of Sochi on a two-day visit for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on missile defence and a strategic security deal. Bush flew to Russia after a stopover in Croatia, which along with Albania was invited to join NATO at the three-day summit that concluded in Bucharest Friday.

The US leader and President Putin are expected to meet for an informal dinner Saturday, and will begin negotiations Sunday. Bush will also meet with Russian president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, who is set to take over in the Kremlin May 7 when Putin steps down.

At the NATO summit, the bloc’s members rejected Bush’s calls for membership talks to be started with Georgia and Ukraine. Macedonia’s membership plans were postponed by Greece’s veto.

The talks between the Russian and US leaders, a continuation of their meeting at the NATO summit which Putin attended as a guest, is again likely to focus on missile defence and NATO expansion. The agenda will also include a broader strategic security deal between the two countries.

After meeting with NATO leaders Friday, Putin said any further NATO expansion towards Russia’s borders would be interpreted as a direct security threat, but ruled out a new Cold War.

In a bid to make up for his recent confrontational rhetoric, Putin highlighted some positive aspects of cooperation with the western bloc, including Russia’s consent at Friday’s talks to transit NATO non-military supplies to the alliance’s troops engaged in anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.

RIA Novosti

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