Former President Bush Meets With Putin
Sun Sep 14, 1:46 PM ET
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer
SOCHI, Russia - Former
President George H.W. Bush met Vladimir Putin
upon arriving Sunday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, less than two
weeks ahead of his son's talks with the Russian leader.
Bush and his wife, Barbara, traveled to Sochi on a plane provided by
the airline that serves Putin and other Russia government figures.
Putin, his black Labrador retriever nearby, greeted them on the tarmac
in English, shaking Bush's hand and giving Barbara a bouquet of roses.
Putin rarely meets even high-level visitors at the airport, and Bush
thanked him for his “extraordinary courtesy”.
“I can tell you our president will be overcome with gratitude for the
way you are treating Barbara and me”, Bush said.
Dressed casually, Bush and Putin held talks at a modest presidential
mansion and strolled with their wives before dinner in the large, lush
garden sloping down to the sea.
Bush, who visited the White House before leaving for St. Petersburg,
Russia, last week, said Sunday “our president has a great feeling not
only of respect (but) of friendship for President Putin. This is not
diplomatic language, this is right from the heart”.
Putin returned the praise, suggesting his relationship with the younger
Bush transcends politics.
“When I talk with the U.S. president, our opinions do not always
coincide, but the most important thing is that we have a very good
rapport, very good feelings toward each other, and trust”, he said.
The warm words set a cordial tone for the summit, which comes as Russia
and the United States seek to patch up relations after deep
disagreement over the war in Iraq and continued debate about the
The Kremlin said last week that Putin and the younger Bush will meet
Sept. 26 at Camp David.
The Russian news agency ITAR-Tass said the elder Bush also will meet
with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, who stepped down in
1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed during the elder Bush's presidency.
Russian news agencies quoted an unidentified Kremlin official as saying
Saturday that talks in Sochi would focus on the development of
Russian-U.S. relations over the past decade and opportunities presented
by the upcoming summit. They also will discuss world affairs since the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the official said.
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