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What Can World Expect from Putin, Bush's 'Lobster Summit'
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is leaving Moscow on Sunday for a visit to his US counterpart George W. Bush's Atlantic coastal summer residence. What can the world expect from them, when the two countries are in rows on a number of issues?

Turn low tone

Moscow and Washington have been urged to turn low rhetorics sparked by arrays of disputes erupted this year, such as US plans to deploy anti-missile components in Czech and Poland and criticisms on Russia's democracy and human rights situation, as well as Russia's threat to re-target its missiles against Europe and slashes on US foreign policy.

Putin's 24-hour-less stay in Bush's family retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, was supposed to cool down such brawls at their informal meeting featured with local specialty, lobster, on menu.

"I hope that the dialogue with the man, with whom I developed good, I should say, friendly relations, will be precisely of this nature," Putin told a group of Russian athletes upon his departure, noting he "would not go and would not receive an invitation" if it is not the case.

Such remarks, labeling a good personal relationship established since the two heads of states first met in 2001, came along with Russia's low-profile treat of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week, an obvious strive to shun damage on Russia-US ties possibly caused by the high-tune anti-US Latin American leader.

Missile shield shadows ties

On the top of the summit's agenda, there was US plan to deploy anti-missile system in Central Europe, which has faced with fierce opposition from Moscow and shrouded bilateral relations in last months.

Washington raised proposals early this year to install 10 anti-ballistic interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in Czech.

Kremlin said the system will not serve to prevent possible attacks from Iran and North Korea, as claimed by Washington, but to change strategic balance on the European continent and threaten its own security.

The dispute, however, was pinned by both White House and Kremlin with little hope to be settled during the summit.

"I do not think that the full stop will be put in Kennebunkport," Itar-Tass news agency quoted a representative of the presidential office as saying.

Spokesman Tony Snow also indicated last Wednesday that the coming talk between Bush and Putin is not likely to make any "grand new announcements."

Kosovo, Iran, DPRK

Putin and Bush have to seek compromise on a number of international issues such as Kosovo and the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.

Western powers, led by the United States, want the United Nations Security Council to back a plan supporting the independence of Kosovo, a Serbian province run by the United Nations since 1999 when NATO bombings halted Serbia's crackdown on separatist Albanian guerrillas, but Serbia's traditional ally Russia has said no.

Bush will also urge Putin to support a significant escalation of pressure on Iran at their meeting on Sunday, the New York Times reported, saying Washington needs Russia's support as it presses the UN Security Council to pass new sanctions, the third round this year, by mid-July.

The two presidents were also expected to talk about the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and an agreement on peaceful use of atomic energy.

A farewell summit?

Putin was supposed to wrap up his eight-year two terms in office in 2008, and he has announced that he himself will not seek a third term, which made the summit possibly the last big one between the two presidents.

"I think that at this stage it will be the last and final meeting in such a format," Putin's aide Sergei Prikhodko said, adding there will be another brief meeting at the APEC summit in September.

At the summit, however, "they are meeting to vent their grievances and mask with a show of camaraderie the gaping void of differences," said Vladimir Frolov, director of the National Laboratory for Foreign Policy, a Moscow-based think tank.

(Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2007)

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