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Rapprochement with Russia?
“There are real issues. I don’t think they are going to be resolved any time soon,” Mr. Blair said.
Mr. Putin bluntly rejected a compromise floated by new French President Nicolas Sarkozy to grant the Serbian province of Kosovo independence from Belgrade after an unspecified period of delay.
France, the United States and most Western powers strongly back a United Nations blueprint allowing the ethnic-Albanian province to break with Serbia. But Russia has backed Serbia, its traditional ally, in rejecting the plan and has hinted it is ready to use its U.N. Security Council veto to block the idea.
“People are trying to convince us this problem can be resolved without getting agreement from Serbia,” he told reporters in Heiligendamm. “We believe this is wrong and does not correspond to moral and legal norms.”
Mr. Putin this weekend faces another tough audience as he addresses a major exposition of Russian and foreign business leaders at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that concludes today.
He is slated to meet privately with some 100 foreign business executives, including chief executive officers from such companies as PepsiCo, Royal Dutch Shell and electronics giant Siemens AG. Recent moves by the Kremlin to crack down on dissent and regain control of key oil and gas exploration deals has unnerved foreign investors, and that could be a brake on the government.
U.S. officials are not raising expectations that the Kennebunkport summit will lead to breakthroughs on the issues dividing the two governments. Aides say Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin have been able to retain a personal rapport, despite the official difficulties.
“The president has been very clear that while it is clear that Russia’s future is in its hands, we believe, obviously for Russia and any other nation, that true stability and prosperity comes when nations give their people economic freedom and build institutions of enduring democracy,” he said.
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