Putin and Bush to meet for 1 hour at Moscow airport to discuss Russia’s WTO bid

U.S. President George W. Bush is going to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during a refueling stop in Moscow today, amid signs the two countries are overcoming strained ties by striking a deal on Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.

The Kremlin's deputy spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told The Associated Press that Putin had decided to greet Bush at the airport Wednesday as a “courtesy.” During their hour-long meeting, the two presidents will discuss the Russian WTO bid and probably Iran 's disputed nuclear program as well, he said.

Russia has resisted sanctions proposed by the U.S. and European countries against its commercial partner, Iran . But analysts have said that a deal over the WTO could persuade Moscow to soften its opposition to punishing Tehran for its refusal to halt sensitive uranium enrichment.

Russia and the United States said they had reached an agreement in principle on Moscow's accession to the powerful body that sets global trade rules, but final details needed to be resolved for a formal agreement to be signed at next week's Asia-Pacific summit meeting in Vietnam.

Russian business daily Kommersant reported Friday that a “formula for the political resolution of the problems” had been found. It quoted unidentified Kremlin sources.

The White House did not give any details of the meeting with Putin. It said that the U.S. president would make a refueling stop in Moscow as a gesture of friendship to Russia and that Bush would be greeted at the airport by Putin and his wife.

Bush in 2001 famously declared that he got a sense of Putin's soul during their first meeting.

The bond was strengthened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when Putin allowed U.S. forces into Central Asia, but since then U.S. concerns over democratic backsliding by the Kremlin and energy-rich Russia's increasingly assertive steps to counter American influence have soured ties.

Russia had earlier hoped to sign a bilateral agreement with Washington as the centerpiece of the Group of Eight Summit, which it hosted in St. Petersburg in July, but talks foundered over sanitary inspections for U.S. beef and pork imports.

Russia is the largest economy outside the 149-member WTO and its efforts to join have been bogged down in trying to reach a bilateral agreement with the United States, the last major country whose approval it needs to join the powerful body that sets global trade rules, hindu.com reports.

Source: agencies

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik

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Author`s name Alex Naumov