President of Russia Vladimir Putin began Sunday his two-day visit to the United States amid strained relations between the two countries.
The talks between the Russian leader and US President George W. Bush will be held July 1-2 at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport in the state of Maine, said Sergei Prikhodko, a presidential aide. Differences between the two countries have sent the US-Russian relationship to its lowest point since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The summit may be the two leaders' last opportunity to reverse the decline before their presidential terms expire next year. The summit will focus on the problem of the Serbian province of Kosovo, the situation in the Middle East, the nuclear issue of Iran and North Korea, democracy and human rights and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expiring in 2009, Prikhodko said.
Both leaders are also expected to discuss the US plans to deploy a missile defense radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland as part of its European missile shield allegedly against “rogue” states, such as Iran and North Korea and the Russian proposal to Washington to deploy its shield on a Russia-rented base in Azerbaijan rather than in Central Europe, Prikhodko said. (rian.ru)