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  Saturday, December 14, 2019
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Vladimir Putin arrived in St. Petersburg overnight to meet George W. Bush on Friday and to host a G8 summit over the weekend
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in St. Petersburg overnight to meet US President George W. Bush on Friday and to host a G8 summit over the weekend. Putin and Bush will have an informal meeting late on Friday, and their official summit meeting will take place on Saturday. The Kremlin and the White House forecast a wide range of topics to be discussed – from Russia’s accession to the WTO to Iran and North Korea. “We expect a serious signal on a further development of Russian-US partnership both in the bilateral sphere, and in the interests of strengthening strategic stability in general and the settlement of major regional conflicts”, Putin’s foreign affairs aide Sergey Prikhodko said. White House spokesman Tony Snow admitted both presidents may have contradictions on some issues, but said they will take major effort to achieve concrete results in the spheres, which are essential for security and economic development. Russian G8 sherpa and Putin’s aide Igor Shuvalov admitted “unfavorable situation (in bilateral relations) peaked during the speech of (US Vice-President) Dick Cheney in Vilnius, while it began to shape out after a gas scandal between Russia and Ukraine, as well as after the adoption of the law on non-governmental organizations”. In Vilnius Cheney criticized Russian democratic performance. Shuvalov believes “the heads of state will have to streamline relations, as they feel responsibility before the world regarding the way Russia and the United States cooperate”. Prikhodko said “there are good examples of cooperation, in particular, on Iran, as there are no contradictions in the strategy and tasks declared by the presidents”. As far as the launch of the North Korean missiles is concerned, Snow said Russia played a constructive role and provided assistance to the United States. He said the two presidents were interacting very well on Iran and North Korea. The United States has not yet given a green light to the Russian accession to the WTO and President Putin recently said that if a corresponding document is not signed, Russia will consider itself free of all obligations it had already assumed in the WTO framework. Experts so far refuse to predict whether the deal would be sealed at the Putin-Bush summit. It is also unclear whether the two leaders would discuss Putin’s proposal to begin negotiations on replacing the Start-1 arms reduction treaty, which expires in 2009. However, Prikhodko said strategic stability would be a topic of discussion. “We want to fill our relations with issues that are understandable not only to politicians, but also to businessmen and ordinary people. Therefore, the presidents will have a possibility to discuss not only issues of international cooperation, but to speak in detail mostly about bilateral issues,” Prikhodko said.
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