Saturday, July 15, 2006

Putin, Bush talk democracy

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the subject of democratic reform in Russia today, while meeting ahead of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg.

Bloomberg's article, "Putin Tells Bush Russia Doesn't Need a Democracy Like Iraq's", conveyed a sense of verbal sparring between the two leaders during their press conference Saturday.

``I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq where there's a free press and free religion,'' Bush told a news conference with Putin after their talks. ``I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing.''

``We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, I will tell you quite honestly,'' Putin shot back.

``Just wait,'' retorted Bush.

An article from the Houston Chronicle's website, "Remarks by Bush, Putin at news conference", gave the discussion a friendlier, more collegial air. The text is transcribed by the White House, so take that for what it's worth.

I think the most complete description of the Bush/Putin meeting and news conference I've seen comes from the CBS News site. Their article, "Bush Blocks Russian WTO Bid", includes a description of the exchange between Putin and Bush over democracy and Iraq, and gives an overview of the agreements reached ahead of the G8 meeting. Video clips are included.