Putin Says He Received a 'Serious' Letter From Bush...

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 03/19/2008 - 12:23am.

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he had received a "serious document" from U.S. leader George W. Bush, which offered the prospect of successful progress in relations between the two countries.

"I recently had an opportunity to speak to the U.S. president and I received his letter," Putin said at the start of a meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"... it is a serious document which we have carefully analyzed. If we manage to agree on its main provisions, we will be able to say that our dialogue is progressing successfully."

Putin did not give further details about the letter.

A Pentagon official traveling with Gates said the letter was sent in advance of Rice and Gates's trip in order to lay out the issues between the two sides.

"It dealt with the agenda, what we wish to discuss while we were here and, frankly, unless they were willing to focus on those issues it was probably not worth us doing the trip," the official said.

Gates said that he and Rice had come to Moscow "outside of the usual rotation" of the bilateral talks in the hope of making progress.

The last meeting between the Russian and U.S. foreign and defense ministers was held in Moscow and the next one had been due to happen in Washington.

(Reporting by Oleg Shchedrov, writing by Michael Stott; editing by Sami Aboudi)

March 17, 2008 - posted at www.reuters.com

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 03/19/2008 - 12:23am.