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U.S. President George Bush expects to have a "good relationship"
U.S. President George Bush expects to have a "good relationship" with new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Bush's national security advisor has said.

"The president expects to have a good relationship with President Medvedev, and will talk about areas where we have common interest and will talk very plainly about areas in which we disagree," Stephen Hadley told reporters on Wednesday.

"We expect continuity in Russian foreign policy. That means there will be areas where we agree and there are going to be areas where we disagree," he added.

Medvedev was sworn in as Russian president on Wednesday in a glittering ceremony in Moscow. Shortly after becoming Russia's new head of state, the new Russian leader nominated his predecessor and mentor, Vladimir Putin, as prime minister.

Bush and Medvedev met last month in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi. They are expected to renew their acquaintance in July at a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Japan.

Areas of disagreement between Moscow and Washington include U.S. plans for a missile shield in Central Europe, NATO expansion, Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia, and the issue of Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

On the last issue, Hadley said, "Obviously we're very concerned what Russia is doing in Georgia in a series of actions which we have labeled and said are provocative. We think Russia needs to back down."

Tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi have escalated rapidly since Putin called for closer ties between Moscow and the breakaway Georgian republics in mid-April. Moscow has also boosted the number of Russian troops in the region in response to what it says are Georgian plans for an invasion of Abkhazia.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that Bush "looks forward" to working with Medvedev.

However, Bush is due to leave office in January 2009, and John McCain, the Republican candidate for the November U.S. presidential elections has said that he would favor a harsher approach to Moscow, including expelling Russia from the G8.

After Medvedev's inauguration, McCain, 71, issued a statement that began, "I sincerely hope the beginning of the Medvedev presidency will also be the beginning of a new era for Russia and for U.S.-Russian relations."

The tone of the statement quickly turned critical, however, and went on to say that, "I hope President Medvedev will soon begin restoring and strengthening the institutions of democracy, including a free press and the rights of a vibrant Russian political opposition to express its views and run for office."

McCain was also critical on the Georgia-Abkhazia issue, stating that he was looking to Medvedev to "take steps to ease tensions with Georgia by reversing recently announced measures that undermine Georgia's internationally-recognized sovereignty."


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