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Bush, Putin disagree on missile defense

  • Story Highlights
  • Bush, Putin fail to reconcile differences over U.S. missile defense system
  • Presidents agree "strategic framework" guiding future U.S.-Russia relations
  • President Bush congratulates Croatia, Albania for invitations to join NATO
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SOCHI, Russia (CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush failed to resolve their differences over U.S. plans for a missile defense system based in eastern Europe but said they had agreed a "strategic framework" to guide future U.S.-Russian relations after bilateral talks Sunday.

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U.S. President George W, Bush meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.

Speaking at a joint press conference after their meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin told journalists he had voiced Russian concerns about U.S. plans to establish missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.

But Putin expressed cautious optimism that the two sides could find a way to cooperate over missile defense and described his eight-year relationship as Russian president with Bush as "mostly positive," The Associated Press reported.

"I will not conceal that one of the most difficult issues was and remains missile defense in Europe," said Putin, who will be replaced by Russia's president-elect Dmitry Medvedev next month. "Our fundamental attitude toward the American plan has not changed."

Bush said the U.S. still had work to do to convince Moscow that the missile defence system was not intended as a threat to Russia, saying the system was "defensive, not offensive" and that people should accept that "the Cold War is over," AP said.

"We've got a lot of way to go," Bush admitted. The U.S. president also met Medvedev, Putin's successor, describing his as a "straightforward fellow." "You can write down, I was impressed and look forward to working with him," he told reporters.

Bush said he expected his first peer-to-peer meeting with Medvedev to come at July's G8 leaders summit in Japan.

In a declaration issued jointly, Putin and Bush said: "The Russian side has made clear that it does not agree with the decision to establish sites in Poland and the Czech Republic and reiterated its proposed alternative. Yet, it appreciates the measures that the U.S. has proposed and declared that if agreed and implemented such measures will be important and useful in assuaging Russian concerns."

In the text of the US-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration, released to AP by the White House following the talks, Russia and the U.S. said they recognized that the era in which each had considered the other to be a "strategic threat or enemy" was over.

"We are dedicated to working together and with other nations to address the global challenges of the 21st century, moving the U.S.-Russia relationship from one of strategic competition to strategic partnership," the declaration said.

"Where we have differences, we will work to resolve them in a spirit of mutual respect... We agree that the foundation for the U.S. and Russian relationship should be based on the core principles of friendship, cooperation, openness, and predictability."

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This weekend's summit is the final meeting between Bush and Putin as presidents and follows both leaders' attendance at last week's NATO summit in Romania. That summit also highlighted differences between Washington and Moscow over U.S.-backed proposals to extend the military alliance to include the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia.

Russia opposes the proposed expansion, fearing it will reduce its own influence over its neighbors. On Thursday, NATO leaders rejected Ukraine and Georgia's case for immediate membership, recognizing Russian objections, but conceded they would be allowed to join the alliance in the future. NATO leaders also approved membership plans for Croatia and Albania. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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