Iran Nuclear NewsBush, Medvedev united on Iran, divided on missiles

Bush, Medvedev united on Iran, divided on missiles


ImageBloomberg: President George W. Bush and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said they will keep working jointly to block Iran's uranium enrichment efforts while indicating they made no progress on bridging differences over U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe.

By Roger Runningen and Catherine Dodge

ImageJuly 7 (Bloomberg) — President George W. Bush and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said they will keep working jointly to block Iran's uranium enrichment efforts while indicating they made no progress on bridging differences over U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe.

"While there are some areas of disagreement I know there are other areas where we can work together," Bush said following his meeting with the Russian leader at the Group of Eight industrial nations summit in Toyako, Japan.

Medvedev said he and Bush will "build on the relationship" between the two nations in the remaining months of the U.S. president's term.

The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, was the first between the two since Medvedev took over from predecessor Vladimir Putin in May. They met previously in April when Bush traveled to Russia for talks with Putin on U.S. plans to install a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe.

Relations between the two countries have strained over the anti-missile plan and expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to include former Soviet bloc nations.

Medvedev, like Putin, opposes U.S. plans to build a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, saying it would threaten Russia. Bush says it is intended to defend against a missile attack by a "rogue" nation such as Iran.

New Approach

Medvedev, Putin's handpicked successor, has avoided the former president's aggressive tone since his May 7 inauguration and is looking to repair frayed relations with Western governments at his inaugural G-8 meeting. Still, he has echoed Putin's objections to the anti-missile system.

Sergei Prikhodko, Medvedev's foreign policy adviser, said afterwards that while consultations on the missile defense plan are continuing, "There is no real progress."

Both men mentioned Iran as an area of common interest where they would continue cooperating, though they gave no details. The U.S. and Russia also are part of the six-party negotiating the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program.

"We had a good discussion about Iran," Bush, 62, said.

The two nations have a general agreement on their approach on Iran, Medvedev, 42, said through a translator. "Then certainly there are others with respect to European affairs and this missile defense where we have differences," he said.

Pressure on Iran

The U.S. and Russia, joined by the European Union have been united in efforts to implement United Nations resolutions aimed at persuading Iran to give up uranium enrichment.

Iran has balked at three UN resolutions demanding a halt to uranium processing. That has raised tensions in the region and prompted speculation that Israel may preemptively strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Concern that a conflict would threaten oil supplies has helped pushed oil prices to record highs.

Oil's 50 percent gain this year is producing a drag on the global economy and is among the top subjects of discussion at the G-8 summit.

Bush arrived in Japan yesterday for his final G-8 meeting. He will also hold talks with leaders of Germany, India, China and South Korea during his five-day trip.

The main topics for the summit include aid to Africa, the rising cost of energy and food and climate change. Bush is pressing the other leaders to fulfill their commitments to assist African nations deal with AIDS, malaria and other disease.

Aid Pledges

The G-8 nations in 2005 pledged to increase overall aid to $130 billion from $80 billion and double assistance for Africa to $50 billion. ONE, a nonpartisan group that works to end extreme poverty around the globe, with a focus on Africa, predicts that the U.S. and the U.K. will meet their commitments, while other nations, including France, Italy, Germany and Canada, are off track.

Bush, on numerous occasions during the past month leading up to the summit, has said he will push his counterparts to fulfill their obligations.

On climate change, summit host Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda yesterday downplayed expectation that the G-8 will emerge from the meetings having fixed a target for cutting greenhouse gas pollution within the next five decades. Bush is insisting that any agreement on a goal must include India and China.

"This is a sad day, that the discussion is whether there may or may not be a 2050 target," said Daniel Mittler, a political adviser to the activist group Greenpeace International. "The only good news that we will see come out of this summit is that this is Bush's last summit." James Connaughton, chairman of Bush's White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the U.S. is "prepared" to commit to binding targets as part of a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

He said the administration will give "serious consideration" to the proposal to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

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