Bush Welcomes Putin To Maine Estate; Putin’s Forces Fire Missile From Russian Sub
As President Bush warmly welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, Putin’s armed forces were assessing a successful firing of a new type of long-range missile shot from a Russian submarine.
Russians claimed the missile can defeat the emergent multi-layered U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) shield.
Bush extended to Putin the singular treat of visiting the seaside estate of Bush’s dad, former President George Bush, in hopes of thawing increasingly strained U.S.-Russian relations.
In response, Putin was amicable in a joint news conference with Bush as they ended their meeting today. The American leader said he and Putin agreed to work together “bilaterally as well as though the NATO council” on issues relating to European missile defense.
Putin seemed to agree, stating that “we do support” the idea of U.S.-Russian consultations on ballistic missile defense in Europe, saying the talks also should be expanded to include an array of European nations.
Bush also said he and Putin “discussed a variety of ways to continue sending a … message” to Iran that it should cease its secretive nuclear materials production program. The U.S. leader said he thinks Putin “shares that concern.”
As well, Bush said that he appreciates very much the Russian attitude in the United Naiions of concern over Iranian nuclear production moves.
However, Putin said he sees signs that Iran may be cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations, which wishes to inspect Iranian nuclear sites.
Bush and Putin stood in sunshine at the rocky Maine coastline, waves from the Atlantic behind them, as they took questions from reporters, with their comments translated by an interpreter.
The friendliness of the American reception, replete with high-speed rides on the elder Bush’s fast boat that streaked across the Atlantic,, stood in marked contrast to a vividly bellicose Russian stance against America in recent months.
Foremost among the flash points in the relation is the current President Bush’s plan to extend the U.S. ground based midcourse missile defense (GMD) system — now based in Alaska and California — to an area in Europe.
With a radar in the Czech Republic and silos filled with interceptors in Poland, the proposed GMD system would be designed to protect Europe, U.S. forces and the United States against missile attacks launched from the Middle East, including any from Iran.
Bush sees this as a rational response to a clear threat, since Iran has been developing and testing increasingly sophisticated missiles in the past year. Iran also has refused pressure from the United States and other industrialized nations to cease its nuclear materials production program. As well, Iran fired a missile from a submerged submarine.
Russia, a nation with extensive links to Iran including arms sales, responded to the U.S. proposal for the European GMD third site initiative in rage, with Putin and other Russian leaders variously threatening to launch military strikes to annihilate any GMD installation that might be constructed in Europe, and vowing to target Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles at European cities, reminiscent of the Cold War.
For his part, Bush is hoping that during the less-than-a-day meeting in Maine, he will be able to convince Putin that the European GMD installation makes sense, and in no way threatens Russian ICBMs. Putin already has eased tensions somewhat by suggesting that the U.S. GMD system in Europe should use a Russian radar in Azerbaijan instead of the installation envisioned for the Czech Republic, an offer Bush termed interesting but didn’t accept.
Bush also will attempt to persuade Putin to pressure Iran into giving up its nuclear development program, which Iran claims is for peaceful electrical generation purposes, but which Western powers suspect is producing fissile material to construct nuclear weapons.
A nuclear Iran, it is feared, could blackmail not only its Middle Eastern neighbors, but European nations as well.
It is less clear what Putin aims to derive from the holiday session with Bush.
Putin may be showing that he can be aggressive, while Americans attempt to be conciliatory.
The Bulava, a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, is a highly advanced variant. It was test-fired from a submerged nuclear submarine in the White Sea three days before Putin arrived at seaside home to shake hands with Bush and present bouquets to the first lady, Laura, and Bush’s mother, Barbara.
In comments to journalists covering the meeting, Bush also praised the response by the newly-installed U.K. government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to terrorist attacks there, atrocities that by luck caused no deaths because the terrorists botched their bomb-building attempts.