Both leaders entered discussions cautiously, wanting to air their grievances without undercutting generally improved relations between the old Cold War nuclear rivals who are cooperating in the war on terror.
Bush was expected to press Putin to do more to promote democratic change in Russia. Bush prefaced his meeting with the Russia leader with a speech in a crowded town square hailing the spread of democracy to former Soviet republics like Slovakia.
High on the agenda are U.S. concerns over Putin’s moves to solidify his power and clamp down on civil and press liberties. Also drawing U.S. alarm are Putin’s attempts to influence elections in Ukraine, Russian arms sales to Syria and the Kremlin’s close ties to Iran.
But Bush seeks to balance those concerns with a desire for continued cooperation on security issues such as terrorism, weapons proliferation and energy.
For their part, Russian officials dislike what they see as U.S. meddling in their internal affairs and in former Soviet republics where Moscow’s influence is waning as some new leaders look westward.