From The Sacramento Bee:
Bush, Putin to share break from tensions
By DEB RIECHMANN - Associated Press Writer
Last Updated 12:08 pm PDT Friday, June 29, 2007
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine -- President Bush's summertime meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bush family's oceanfront estate is about lobsters, legacies and a break from increasing tensions.
Relations between Washington and Moscow are strong, but on the skids, and both Bush and Putin want to massage those relations before leaving office.
"It's not a secret the amount of disagreements is rising," Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, said Friday. "Sometimes it's inevitable. It's not a sign of profound crisis in our bilateral relationship."
Putin, bolstered by Russia's economic muscle and popularity at home, has adopted an assertive posture on the world stage. He has bluntly opposed a U.S. missile defense plan in Europe. Putin bristles when Bush scolds the Kremlin for rolling back democratic reforms and fends off what he sees as U.S. meddling in the affairs of ex-Soviet nations.
Bush, dogged by low poll ratings and rising anti-American sentiment around the world, is preoccupied with the war in Iraq, which Putin opposed. With waning U.S. leverage with Russia, Bush is hoping to tone down the rhetoric and find common ground on issues while dining on lobster, or reeling in a few fish.
It will have to be fast.
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