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Putin, Bush to discuss European missile defense plans Thursday

The Russian and US presidents will discuss the proposed deployment of a US missile shield in Central Europe Thursday, a Russian presidential aide said.

Vladimir Putin arrived in Germany to take part in the summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations starting Wednesday. „We will talk openly and bluntly, and expect to hear explanations,” Sergei Prikhodko said, adding that the bilateral meeting will focus on strengthening and advancing cooperation between the two countries.

The three-day G8 summit at Germany's Baltic resort of Heiligendamm will be the eighth and last for Putin, whose term in office comes to an end early next year. Meetings at the summit, hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are set to address climate change, development aid to Africa, Iran's nuclear program, and aid to Darfur, but are likely to be overshadowed by a dispute between Moscow and Washington over US plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Europe.

Since early Wednesday, the main road from the Rostock airport and other roads leading to Heiligendamm have been blocked by rows of people engaged in a sit-down protest, as well as barricades. Young people clad in black threw stones at riot police, who have found it difficult to separate them from peaceful protesters and used water cannons to disperse the crowd. (