Saturday, July 29, 2006
Putin puts Bush in the corner
Bush, Putin butt heads over democracy
By Joseph Curl
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
July 16, 2006
During yesterday's press conference, Mr. Putin also took a swipe at Mr. Bush, who repeatedly has lectured the Russian president for failing to press forward with democratic reforms.
Mr. Bush said he had talked with Mr. Putin during a two-hour private meeting "about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq, where there's a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing."
Mr. Putin, who opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has criticized efforts to establish democracy there, quickly replied: "We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, I can tell you quite honestly."
"Just wait," Mr. Bush said with a tight smile and reddening face after Mr. Putin's remarks were translated into English.
"We know for sure that we cannot strengthen our nation without developing democratic institutions. But, certainly, we will do this by ourselves," Mr. Putin added.
He also said that Russia would not take part "in any crusades, in any holy alliances" -- a remark that appeared to be intended to sooth Arab allies. Mr. Hadley said he did not understand the comment.
Despite the cool relationship between the leaders, each said they share the same philosophies and goals.
"We don't always agree with each other, but nevertheless, it's important for leaders to be able to share philosophy, whether it be the philosophy of government or the philosophy of governing," Mr. Bush said.
While they announced a series of agreements -- from more cooperation in fighting acts of nuclear terrorism and in storing spent nuclear waste to setting up a U.S.-Russia foundation to help modernize Russia's economy -- talks broke down on Russia's bid to gain U.S. support to join the World Trade Organization.
Mr. Bush said U.S. negotiators think Russia needed to offer more in trade concessions to satisfy Congress. He said both sides would continue talks, and a top negotiator said an agreement could be reached within three months.