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Russia's prime minister will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing
Russia's prime minister will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on Friday as well as meet with Russian athletes, a government source said on Wednesday.

According to preliminary reports, the heads of over 85 countries and 10 governments, as well as around 10 monarchs are due to attend a reception in Beijing.

During his visit on 8-9 August, Vladimir Putin is expected to meet with the U.S. president and with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier of the State Council Wen Jiabao and the former president, Jiang Zemin.

"...this will be a gesture to Russia, and to Vladimir Putin personally," the Russian source said adding that Hu will only meet two other leaders, U.S. President George W. Bush and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Putin is expected to discuss bilateral relations, including energy contacts following a recent visit by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin to Beijing, cooperation in civilian aviation, environmental issues and arrangements for a possible visit to Moscow by China's premier in October, as well as a prime ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

China and Russia agreed to hold at least one annual meeting on energy issues following Sechin's working visit to China on July 26-27.

Putin will also meet with George Bush, "I do not think there will be a substantial or long conversation - key issues only will be raised," the Russian government source said adding that Putin and Bush could discuss the situation in Georgia and missile defense.

Washington plans to deploy a radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland citing a potential threat on the part of Iran. Russia fears the systems would threaten its security. The two parties have so far failed to reach agreement on the issue.

The conflict between Georgia and its rebel republic of South Ossetia intensified over the weekend when six people died and at least 15 were injured during shelling of the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali. Georgia blamed the South Ossetia for provoking the armed clashes along the de facto border.

Putin and Bush last met in Sochi in April 2008, before Putin ceded his presidential power.


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