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President Bush in Russia for Talks with President Putin

  • VOA News

US President George W. Bush is in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks with President Vladimir Putin on future relations between their two countries as both men conclude their terms of office.

The two leaders opened their first round of talks shortly after Mr. Bush arrived at the Russian president's vacation residence.

Earlier, White House officials accompanying Mr. Bush said they did not expect the talks to produce an agreement on US plans to deploy an anti-missile defense system in central Europe.

A spokeswoman Dana Perino said discussions on the issue are on the right track, but more work will be needed after Sochi.

Russia strongly opposes the US missile defense plans, describing them as a threat to its security. But the United States says the planned system is aimed at protecting Europe from an attack from the Middle East.

Mr. Bush flew to Sochi from Croatia, where he stopped after this week's NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania.

Earlier today, Mr. Bush told thousands in Zagreb that Croatia's invitation to begin NATO entry talks is a sign their country has "overcome war and hardship" and is now a maturing democracy.

NATO leaders invited Croatia and Albania to begin the talks. President Bush expressed regret Macedonia did not get an invitation because of a dispute with Greece over the country's name. But he said Macedonia should be invited "as soon as possible."

Mr. Putin Thursday sharply criticized continued NATO expansion, especially any further movement towards Russia's borders.

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