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Bush presses Putin on democracy but praises ties

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Bush presses Putin on democracy but praises ties


The US and Russian presidents have hailed their ties and dismissed rumours of frosty relations at the end of their summit in Slovakia. George W.Bush set the tone for the talks earlier this week by raising questions over Moscow’s commitment to democracy. Privately, he expressed concerns about press freedom in Russia. At their joint news conference, both men were friendly but frank about their discussions.

“Even if we didn’t agree on certain issues, if you look at what we have done over the last four years and what we want to do in the next four, the common ground is a lot more than those areas where we disagree,” said Bush.

Vladimir Putin said that Russia would not be going back on the democratic path it embarked upon when the Soviet Union collapsed 14 years ago and that Western fears are unfounded: “Russia and the US share long-term interests, genuine strategic goals and certainly a great degree of responsibility towards our own people and those in other countries when we talk about international security,” said Putin.

There was also agreement that neither Iran nor North Korea should have any nuclear weapons. Bush now returns to Washington pleased no doubt to have got his points across without giving too much ground.

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