Kremlin upbeat over Bush-Putin talks

MOSCOW, April 6 (RIA Novosti) – The key outcome of Sunday’s farewell summit between the Russian and U.S. leaders was the willingness both sides showed to seek a compromise on the main disputes, a Kremlin source told RIA Novosti.

George W. Bush and outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin failed at their meeting in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi to overcome their differences on the key stumbling block in bilateral relations, U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe.

However, the Kremlin source said: “This meeting between the presidents ended on a positive note.”

“The most important result of the meeting was not statements of disagreements, but on the contrary, the demonstrated will to search for points of contact, and develop bilateral dialogue.”

After the meeting, Putin told a news conference that although he and Bush continued to disagree on missile defense, “there was some positive progress. Our concerns were heard by the American side, first at the March ‘2+2’ meeting, and then today, in the conversation with President Bush.”

He said he believes Bush is seriously and sincerely seeking to resolve the problem. “We fully support this attitude,” Putin said.

The Kremlin source said that at Bush’s meeting with Russian president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, who will assume office in one month, the sides showed a desire to continue along the current direction of Russian-American relations.

“The sides agreed that the search for compromises will be actively continued,” he said.

After meeting Medvedev, Bush called him a “straightforward fellow”, and said he looked forward to working with him when he assumes office. Their next meeting is likely to be at the G8 summit in Japan on July 7-9, Bush said.

Russia views a planned U.S. missile base in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a direct threat to its security and has rejected Washington’s assurances that they were designed as protection against Iran and other Middle East states.

As well as missile defense, Putin said that differences remained on strategic weapons.

“As for strategic offensive armaments, some disagreements remain in our fundamental approaches,” he said.

A document released after the meeting said the countries would continue to work on a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to replace START-1, which will expire in December, and that both Moscow and Washington remain committed to reducing their strategic arms to a minimum.

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