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7 Jul, 2008 11:12

Medvedev: U.S. plans to deploy AMD in Lithuania "unacceptable"

Russian President Dmitry Mevedev has expressed his concern to George W. Bush over Washington's plans to use Lithuania as a launchpad for its missiles. The two presidents discussed the countries' long-running dispute on t

Medvedev told George W. Bush at their one-to-one meeting that the idea of creating a missile base in Lithuania as an alternative to plans for Poland would be 'absolutely unacceptable' to Russia.

Russian Presidential aid Prikhodko also stressed the discussions on missile defence had produced “no real progress,” but said “working-level contacts on this problem are ongoing.”

The two presidents also discussed Iran, Georgia and mutual trade and investment.
While for U.S. officials, the meeting was a chance to see the new Russian president in action, the Russians tried to get a sense of what the next US administration’s policies will be like.

Bush said: “I’m leaving, but not until six months and I’m sprinting to the finish. So we can get a lot done together and, you know, a lot of important issues. There is – you know, Iran is an area where Russia and the United States have worked closely in the past and will continue to work closely to convince the regime to give up its desire to enrich uranium.”

With less than an hour allotted to the meeting, the Russian and American presidents had to prioritise their talking points, but there was one issue Medvedev couldn’t avoid – George Bush’s 62nd birthday.

“Besides, I congratulated George on his birthday as such events take place regardless of any summits,” the Russian president said.

The annual summit brings together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. This year, leaders of another 15 countries including several African states have been invited.

Japan had put climate change high on the summit's agenda, but global economic troubles and rising food prices are widely expected to overshadow other issues.

Aid to Africa topped the agenda on the first day of the summit.  Later in the evening, the G8 leaders attended a dinner hosted by the Japanese Prime Minister.

For Russian President Dmitry Medevedev it's the first summit as the country's leader.

On the sidelines of the summit, he met British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The relations between the two countries are at a low point, strained by issues like the British Council row, the Aleksandr Litvinenko case and the latest TNK-BP dispute.

The two leaders admitted there are difficulties in relations, but also agreed there are spheres where things are going extremely well.

Medvedev said, “Concerning trade and relations in the economic sector – everything looks fine here.”

“We see that the level of investment between our countries is almost doubling as compared with the estimates of 2007. And all these show the huge potential of our relations, despite some of the problems we have,” he added.

Brown, for his part, said: “I will of course raise all the outstanding issues in our relationship and we look forward to constructive and workmanlike discussions.”

He said the two would also discuss issues of economic development affecting the whole world, such as oil prices, food prices, the credit crunch and climate change.

On Monday Medvedev also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

While, meeting with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, Medvedev voiced the hope that work on a new basic agreement between Russia and the European Union would begin during France's presidency of the EU in the second half of 2008.

“We have at last approached a new agreement on relations between Russia and the European Union. I hope that during France's presidency we shall make certain movements in order to prepare respective documents and to begin work on the basis of the new agreement,” Medvedev said.

In return, the French President promised to do everything towards Russia and the EU establishing “a fruitful partnership” by the summit due to be held in October.

Meanwhile, protests against the high-level talks have been held in Japan. The protesters claim G8 countries skimp on aid to Africa and are calling for a change in policy. A group of activists dressed up in caricature costumes of the leaders called on them to stop allowing food to be grown for biofuel.