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Putin Hosts American First Family During Brief Moscow Stop-Over

  • Lisa McAdams

Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President George Bush and their wives are expected to visit during lunch at an airport outside Moscow, later Wednesday. No agenda has been released, but it is widely expected the two leaders will discuss Iran and Russia's long-sought entry into the World Trade Organization.

The meeting at Vnukovo Airport is a stopover in Mr. Bush's flight to the APEC summit in Hanoi. The session is being billed as an informal chat over lunch. However, officials on both sides agree the political symbolism weighs strong.

Both leaders complete second terms in office in 2008, but they still have much to accomplish together before then - not the least of which is addressing the perception of a growing divide in Russo-American relations.

Officials in Russia are reported to be wary about the incoming Democratic majority in Congress, produced by the recent American mid-term elections. U.S. officials are stymied by Russia's hard-line stance against international efforts to impose sanctions on Tehran in a bid to get it to halt its controversial nuclear program.

But, rather than focus on negatives, the two are likely to highlight the expected readying of a landmark agreement that would open the way for Russia's eventual entry into the World Trade Organization. Documents solidifying the deal are expected to be signed after the APEC Summit in Vietnam, beginning Saturday.

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