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Ver nota en NYT's: Putin Joins Bush at Family Compound in Maine

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July 1, 2007
Putin Joins Bush at Family Compound in Maine
KENNEBUNKPORT, Me., July 1 — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia arrived at the Bush family compound here late this afternoon for a two-day visit during which he and President Bush are planning to mix the relaxation of family and fishing with the high anxiety of a growing list of divisive issues.

Mr. Putin’s jet landed in nearby Portsmouth N.H., where former President George H.W. Bush joined him for the helicopter ride back here. Mr. Putin was then delivered by limousine to the Bush home, Walker’s Point, which juts into the Atlantic Ocean in plain view of the main coastal road, to the clear anxiety of the Russian and American security teams.

On the schedule tonight is a Bush family dinner, with George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush playing host as they often did here for world leaders when he was president and she was the first lady.

Also scheduled to attend the dinner are Laura Bush, the president’s wife, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser.

Officials from both sides have played down the likelihood that any major agreements will come out of the talks here.

Mr. Bush is expected to press Mr. Putin to sign on with a new regime of sanctions against Iran for its pursuit of uranium enrichment program.

American officials are expecting the Russian president to show some reluctance because of his country’s economic ties to Iran, although they have said they see new signs of Russian frustration with the Iranians. Still, officials of the Russian state company helping to build Iran’s first nuclear power station — over the United States’ objections — met in Tehran earlier today for talks about the project.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin are also expected to discuss American plans for a missile defense system based in the Czech Republic and Poland, and a Russian counterproposal for a shared system in Azerbaijan. Another likely topic is Kosovo statehood and Russia’s support for Serbian opposition to it.

But officials on both sides have said that the meetings are meant bridge the distance between the two nations at a time when tensions between the United States and Russia are the highest they have been during Mr. Bush’s presidency.

Mr. Putin, who is stopping in the United States on his way to an Olympics meeting in Guatemala, had initially suggested that the two men meet. Mr. Bush then suggested that the meetings be held at the family compound in Kennebunkport, where he goes only rarely, preferring his vacation ranch in Texas.

The former president was happy to be the host, officials said.

In an interview with the local television station WGME-TV earlier this week, Mr. Bush’s father said he would not be part of the broader discussion. But he said his home would provide the leaders a place to, “sit down, no necktie, sit in a beautiful house overlooking the sea and talk frankly without a lot of straphangers.”

He said it was likely Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin would go fishing. “Fishing is good for the soul,” he said. “Fishing is good for one person to get to know another.”

The father and son presidents went fishing, themselves, on Saturday and today.

It was a slightly less serene scene on the streets of this town today, as hundreds of protesters marched toward Mr. Bush’s compound, though they got only as far as police barricades scores of yards away.

Carrying signs that called for Mr. Bush’s impeachment and urged an end to the Iraq war, the marchers passed by a gaggle of a couple of dozen war supporters, who held a modest counterprotest.

“We’re here to show there’s another side of the story,” said Byron Grant, 62, a salesman at the counterdemonstration.

But there was some confusion in the demonstrators’ ranks. A young woman holding one of war supporters’ machine-made “Support the Troops” signs, and sitting with them peaceably, said, “I just want them home,” holding pictures of two soldiers she said were “my boys.”

“I’m in the wrong spot,” she said, apologizing for mixing in with their crowd. “It’s O.K.,” they told her, so, she continued, “I’m protesting the war, I’m protesting the president.”

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