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Thorny Issues Hard to Crush
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Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's cozy stay at the Bush family's century-old seaside retreat, it is unlikely the two leaders will find common ground on thorny issues such as the US missile shield in Eastern Europe or Kosovo's future, analysts say.

"As long as the US insists on deploying its missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, the former sphere of Russian influence, Moscow will feel threatened by US expansion and mistrust or confrontation is unavoidable," Fu Mengzi, director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told China Daily yesterday.

But despite this the two leaders may be prepared to search for some common ground, said Fu.

Bush is going out of his way to comfort the angry Putin in the hope his plans in Eastern Europe will meet less resistance from Moscow, he said.

"At the same time, with the negotiation of Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization coming to a critical point, Russia also needs Washington's support.

"The warm reception also reflects US appreciation for the role Russia has played in transferring US$25 million back to Pyongyang from a Macao-based bank, helping the return of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to North Korea," said Shi Yinhong, a professor at Beijing's Renmin University of China.

The row over the US missile defense system is just the latest episode in a slow burning row between the two countries, Shi said. "Russia has been angry about NATO's eastward expansion for a long time and the missile system was the last straw," said Shi.

(China Daily July 3, 2007)

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