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Presidents Bush, Putin Agree on Iran, Not on Missile Shield

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Maine Monday to discuss Iran's nuclear ambitions and a missile defense system in Europe. Foreign policy analysts assess where the two leaders made progress.

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    After pleasantries and fishing at the Bush family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin turned to business today. They talked for more than an hour, then met with reporters.

    Mr. Bush said the two nations were drawing closer on Iran, though Russia previously has resisted U.S. initiatives for tougher U.N. sanctions to stop Iran from pursuing its uranium-enrichment program.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: I have been counting on the Russian support to send a clear message to the Iranians. We're close on recognizing that we've got to work together to send a common message.


    Much of the news conference was devoted to a proposed missile defense system. President Bush welcomed Putin's suggestions for more involvement by Russia and Europeans in a defense system the U.S. says could protect against rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.


    The president made a very, I thought, very constructive and bold strategic move, and that is that, why don't we broaden the dialogue and include Europe through NATO and the Russia-NATO Council?


    But Mr. Bush did not back down on plans to deploy missiles in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic. And, once again, President Putin emphasized his opposition to that idea.

    The two presidents both spoke of strengthening future relations.

    VLADIMIR PUTIN, President of Russia (through translator): We are now discussing the possibility of raising our relations to an entirely new level that would involve a very private and very, shall we say, sensitive dialogue on all issues related to international security, including, of course, the missile defense issue.


    It's in our interests and the U.S. interests to have good, solid relations with Russia. And that's what Vladimir and I have worked hard to achieve.


    Mr. Bush said he looked forward to more meetings with Putin this fall.