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Bush Tries to Revive Rapport with Putin
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US President George W. Bush was hosting Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday at the Bush family's summer home on the craggy Maine coast, hoping that applying the personal touch can once again improve frayed relations in one of the world's most crucial partnerships.

Before leaving for the United States, Putin emphasized his "friendly" personal relationship with Bush, suggesting it should create a positive atmosphere for the summit. Putin was scheduled to arrive in Maine at 4:30 PM (20:30 GMT) on Sunday local time.

"I hope that my dialogue with a person with whom very good, I would say friendly, relations have developed in recent years, will have precisely that character," Putin said during a meeting yesterday with Russian Olympic athletes at his residence outside Moscow. "If it wasn't that way, I wouldn't go, and I wouldn't have been invited."

"In politics, as in sports, there is always competition. It's important for these competitions to be conducted under certain rules and with respect for each other's interests," he added.

Bush and Putin have time and again used the personal touch to shore up US-Russian relations.

Now, the US president is hosting his Russian counterpart at the Bush family's summer home. No other leader has received such a rarified invitation.

The Russian leader gets two presidents in one visit: Bush's dad, former President George H.W. Bush, owns the home and is playing low-key host to the meetings. Putin also will be feted with spectacular views, sparkling New England summertime weather, lobster at nearly every meal, and possibly a striper fishing excursion on the elder Bush's speedboat.

(China Daily via agencies July 2, 2007)

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