U.S. President George W. Bush offered only lukewarm help to Georgia Tuesday in its base dispute with Russia, sidestepping appeals to step up pressure on Moscow to withdraw from the two Soviet-era bases.
Bush told reporters the issue came up in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reminded Bush that Moscow was committed to a 1999 agreement to withdraw troops, which Bush said was important for Georgia.
"The Russians want to work with the government to fulfill their obligations in terms of that agreement," Bush said.
However, he refrained from increasing pressure on Moscow to withdraw the troops soon, saying it was up to the two countries themselves.
"I think this is a commitment, an important commitment for people of Georgia to hear," he said. "And it shows there is grounds to work, to get this issue resolved."
NATO's Boeing P-8 Poseidon was circling above the easternmost point of Romania at the time of the missile strike on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol