George W. Bush accepted Moscow’s invitation and will come to Russia to meet Vladimir Putin. The US-Russian presidential meeting will take place on April 6 in the city of Sochi, on the Black Sea coast of Russia, after the NATO Summit and after Bush’s visit to Croatia.
“We are glad that President Bush accepted President Putin’s invitation to hold a work meeting and discuss a wide range of questions,” an official spokesman for the Russian presidential administration, Sergei Prikhodko said.
Bush’s national security advisor Steven Hadley said that the forthcoming talks will give an opportunity to estimate the achieved progress and see if the two countries can solve serval other problems.
George Bush pointed out only one issue which he said he would discuss with Putin in April – the deployment of the US missile defense system in Europe.
The USA intends to deploy a radar station in the Czech Republic and ten interceptor missiles in Poland. Moscow persistently continues to set out its concerns with the deployment of US defense objects in close proximity to Russian borders.
Bush will yet again try to convince his Russian counterpart of the need to deploy the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. The US president said that he would try to prove it to Putin that it would be impossible to defend Europe from a possible attack from Iran without the system.
"I think a lot of people in Europe would have a deep sigh of relief if we're able to reach an accord on missile defense," Bush said during a roundtable interview with foreign journalists. "And hopefully we can,” the AP quoted Bush as saying.
Bush declined to comment on what he thinks democracy will be like in Russia under Medvedev, Putin's protege and hand-picked successor. U.S. concerns about democratic backsliding in Russia were already on the rise before the Kremlin's power was enlisted to help smooth Medvedev's election.
Bush first said he had not yet met Medvedev, though the White House has said the two met once four years ago when the Russian was a government minister. Bush quickly then said "I have yet to work with him."
He said he liked some things he's heard Medvedev say, but he said he would be "listening very carefully" as time goes on and suggested he would withhold judgment on the new president's leadership until after he has dealt with him.
Prepared by Dmitry Sudakov