Bush to ask Putin's help in pressuring Iran

US President George W. Bush will seek Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support for wider sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, during weekend talks in Maine where Bush hopes to rekindle a friendship with the Russian leader.

Bush to ask Putin's help in pressuring Iran
US President George W. Bush will seek Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support for wider sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, during weekend talks in Maine where Bush hopes to rekindle a friendship with the Russian leader.

Six years after Bush said he trusted Putin because he had gotten “a sense of his soul,” ties between their two countries have grown chilly over Russia’s concerns about a US missile shield in Eastern Europe, US concerns about a rollback of freedoms in Russia and Moscow’s opposition to the Iraq war.

The two-day talks at the Bush family home in picturesque Kennebunkport will begin on Sunday. Officials have described the meeting as informal and have played down any prospects of a breakthrough on issues like the missile shield.

But a senior US official, who briefed reporters about the visit earlier this week, said there has been “an increasing convergence in US-Russian views” on concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.

“I do think we see the threat very much the same,” said the official, adding that there would be discussion of a new UN Security Council resolution against Iran.

According to The New York Times, one proposal floated on Friday with Russian officials and other members of the UN Security Council would require inspections of cargo heading to or from Iran to see if it contained illicit nuclear-related shipments or arms. The Times said the inspections are cast as a preventive measure but could slow Iran’s economy.

A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Bush plans to ask Putin to support steps to increase economic pressure on Iran.

Major Western countries suspect Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and have called on it to stop enriching uranium.

The elder Bush is expected to meet Putin at Pease air base in New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon and they will take a short helicopter ride to Kennebunkport, where the Russian leader will join the Bush family for dinner. A boat trip is a possibility for Monday and Bush is to meet Putin for a one-on-one-meeting at breakfast with a wider meeting after that.

Foreign policy analysts said the decision to host the Russian leader in Kennebunkport underscored Bush’s seriousness about trying to mend the relationship.

Increasingly harsh rhetoric from Putin has fueled concerns in Washington.

In one recent comment, Putin seemed to compare US foreign policy to that of the Third Reich. He also lashed out over the US missile defense system by saying he would retarget missiles toward Europe if Bush went ahead with his plan to put components of the shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Last Mod: 01 Temmuz 2007, 10:37
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