Bush, Putin Project United Front On Iran

Monday, July 2nd 2007, 7:20 am

By: News On 6

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) _ President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin projected a united front Monday against Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

``When Russia and the United States speak along the same lines, it tends to have an effect and therefore I appreciate the Russians' attitude in the United Nations,'' Bush said. ``We're close on recognizing that we got to work together to send a common message.''

Putin predicted that ``we will continue to be successful'' as they work through the U.N. Security Council.

Security Council members have begun discussing a U.S. proposal for sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to stop enriching uranium. The U.S., Russia and their fellow permanent U.N. Security Council members, however, have told Iran they will hold off on new sanctions if it stops expanding its enrichment activities while they seek to restart talks about the program with Tehran. Diplomats say the Iranian government has not yet responded to the proposal.

Putin suggested there would be ``further substantial intercourse on this issue.''

It was unclear whether the leaders had agreed on methods or merely wanted to gloss over for public consumption any differences on strategy.

Bush and Putin have contrasting views on democracy and missile defense, NATO expansion into Russia's backyard and independence for Kosovo. They both want to stymie Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions, but haven't seen eye-to-eye on how tough to get with Tehran or even whether Iranian missiles currently pose a threat.

On the prickly missile issue, Putin proposed transforming U.S. plans for an Eastern European missile shield into a broader system that would incorporate a radar system in southern Russia and bring more European nations into the decision-making process.

``The relationship of our two countries would be raised to an entirely new level,'' Putin said, standing alongside Bush on the lawn of the Bush family summer home overlooking the craggy Atlantic shoreline.

Washington is planning to build a new missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic. Putin had said the United States ``overstepped its national borders'' in every way and has threatened to reposition Russian rockets in retaliation.

Last month, Putin surprised Bush in Germany by proposing a Soviet-era early warning radar in Azerbaijan as a substitute for the radar and interceptors the United States wants to place in Poland and the Czech Republic. Washington has been clear it doubts the Azerbaijan facility is up to becoming a substitute.

Bush called the Russian leader's latest missile defense idea ``very sincere'' and ``very innovative.''

However, the president said, ``I think the Czech Republic and Poland need to be an integral part of the system.''

Earlier, Bush and the Russian leader piled into a powerful speedboat navigated by Bush's father _ former President George H.W. Bush. Under a bright morning sunshine, Putin and the Bushes roamed close to the shoreline around the Bush family's oceanfront estate for about an hour and a half.

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