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Putin, Bush Meet in Moscow
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Showing the unpredictable nature of international relations, Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday held brief talks with his visiting US counterpart George W. Bush at a Moscow airport where the US leader was making a refueling stopover en route to Asia.

Putin and his wife Lyudmila greeted Bush and his wife Laura on the tarmac of Vnukovo airport before heading into a wing of the terminal to talk over lunch, the Interfax news agency reported.

Speaking after the meeting, a Kremlin spokesman said Putin and Bush confirmed their willingness to sign a deal on Russia's accession to the WTO in Hanoi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which both leaders are to attend at the weekend.

Russia -- the largest economy still outside the Geneva-based world trade body -- and the United States agreed on the terms of Russian accession to the WTO last week after marathon talks.

Iran's nuclear program was also discussed at the Putin-Bush meeting, coming several days after Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani visited Moscow for talks on ways to break the nuclear impasse.

The presidents "discussed various issues on the bilateral, as well as international, agenda. The focus was on the Iranian nuclear issue," Kremlin spokesman Alexei Gromov was quoted as saying.

The United States is seeking to impose sanctions on Iran through the UN Security Council accusing Tehran of cloaking a nuclear-weapons program as a civilian-use operation. Iran strongly rejects these claims.
Russian officials have criticized an European draft resolution imposing sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2006)

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