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Saturday, 16 June, 2001, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Bush and Putin: Best of friends
George Bush and Vladimir Putin
The summit was a success despite unresolved issues
By Caroline Wyatt in Ljubljana

Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin have met for the first time and appear to have hit it off.

The two men still differ over enlarging Nato and US missile defence plans, but they exchanged warm words.

I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul

George W Bush
They say they found the basis for a relationship of mutual respect.

At the end of their first summit meeting in Slovenia Mr Bush described Mr Putin as a straightforward and trustworthy man.

The Russian leader said he regarded the US as a partner.

Getting on

The summit is being judged a success by both sides even though it leaves Russia and the US little closer to resolving the issues that divide them.

The atmosphere here was one of friendly co-operation with the two leaders getting on far better than expected.

George Bush and Vladimir Putin
The warmth of the meeting surprised many
The first handshake looked stiff and awkward, but after well over an hour of talks they came out smiling with Mr Bush inviting the Russian leader to visit his ranch in Texas.

Mr Bush described their meeting as straightforward and effective.

He said it was time to move beyond Cold War attitudes, away from mutually assured destruction towards mutually earned respect.

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue.

"I was able to get a sense of his soul.

"He's a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that's the beginning of a very constructive relationship," Mr Bush said.


Mr Putin also seemed to suggest these two very different leaders had built up a rapport.

Echoing Mr Bush he called the United States Russia's partner. Warm words, unthinkable just a few months ago.

The Russian leader said both their countries bore a special responsibility for maintaining world peace and security.

However he warned that any unilateral action would make that process more complicated - a signal that difficult discussions on Nato and the US missile defence system still lie ahead.

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