Russia, U.S. Divided By Fundamental Differences Unlikely To Be Reconciled During Putin-Bush Meeting In Shanghai

A meeting between Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush has just begun in Shanghai. According to sources in the US delegation, Bush intends to thank Putin for the part Russia plays in the effort to combat international terrorism. Sources in Moscow and Washington assume that proximity of the two countries' stances on the subject creates a good atmosphere for settling other issues of common interest. At the same time, Bush told journalists in Shanghai on Saturday that "no amazing news" would eventuate from his meeting with the Russian president except the fact that "we continue our dialogue," thus hinting that the USA has no intention of making concessions to Russia when it comes to the national missile defense system or NATO eastward enlargement. According to experts, the sides have fundamental differences in certain spheres, such as the US plans to deploy a national missile defense system. While Washington is trying to convince the world that September 11 terrorist attacks justify the creation of this system, Moscow holds an entirely different view. Russian specialists tend to believe that the methods used by terrorists have once again proved the inanity of altering the current regime of strategic stability as outlined by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Sources in the Russian delegation believe that talks between Putin and Bush may also touch on the current situation in Abkhazia, even though this particular subject may be a sensitive issue for the USA, considering that Georgian and Chechen militants based in the Pankisi Gorge turned up in Abkhazia immediately after Eduard Shevardnadze's visit to Washington. According to the Russian military, it is nothing but an attempt on the part of the Georgian leadership to avoid accusations of favoring terrorists and simultaneously aggravate the situation in the self-proclaimed Abkhazian Republic. Experts also say Shevardnadze may weaken the international anti-terrorist front by creating a new hotbed of tension close to the Russian border. Other topics that may surface during the Putin-Bush meeting in Shanghai include Washington's unfounded, as Moscow sources put it, antidumping procedures based on the famous Jackson-Vanick Amendment.

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