Negotiations between Putin and Bush begin

The negotiations between Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush started in the Blue Parlor of the Yekaterininsky Palace in St Petersburg.

Deputy head of the Kremlin administration Sergei Prikhodko told RIA Novosti that the 90-minute conversation between the two leaders will be focused on joint fight against terror, Russia-NATO co-operation and US-Russian bilateral relations.

In addition, Putin and Bush are expected to discuss the situation around Iraq and North Korea, in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and co-operation with Iran.

The Russian and American delegations to the presidents' meeting will include Russian ministers of foreign affairs and defence Igor Ivanov and Sergei Ivanov respectively, Security Council secretary Vladimir Rushailo, U.S. State Secretary Colin Powell, and aide to the U.S. president for national security Condoleezza Rice.

According to RIA Novosti, tete-a-tete negotiations between Putin and Bush have not been planned. "So far, they have nothing to conceal from their subordinates," a member of the Russian president's administration joked.

The Kremlin experts point out that the meeting of Putin and Bush is taking place "in a crucial period of Russo-American relations, which have been over the past months less dependent to domestic affairs that Russia's relations with some European countries or even the EU structures." According to RIA Novosti, next year the presidents of Russia and the United States will have at least three meetings. Moscow hopes that Bush will participate in the celebrations of St Petersburg's 300th anniversary in May. In June, the G8 will have its summit in Evian-les-Bains (France), while the summit of APEC is due to take place in Thailand autumn. Such forums usually include bilateral meetings of country leaders.

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