It was all smiles and flowers for the First Lady when Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived at George W Bush’s seaside home in Maine yesterday for talks with his counterpart. Both leaders have differing views on practically every major issue on the international agenda from democracy and missile defense to NATO expansion and independence for Kosovo. Many analysts agree the success of these talks will be measured on how much the leaders can agree to disagree.
Indeed, both sides have advised against expecting any major breakthroughs. Instead, the meeting is being portrayed as a chance for Bush and Putin to revive the rapport they once enjoyed and to salvage badly frayed US-Russia ties. Meanwhile, in a nearby town just a kilometre away, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets calling for the impeachment of President Bush. Some protesters also targeted Putin accusing him of human rights violations in the breakaway province of Chechnya.