WASHINGTON – President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday discussed growing tensions over Iran's nuclear programs and Russia's concerns about U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe.
The Kremlin reported that Putin "expressed the motivations for Russia's concerns in connection with U.S. plans to create a missile defense system in Central Europe. In connection with this, the U.S. president expressed his willingness to discuss this idea with Russia in detail... in the interest of mutual security."
Gordon Johndroe, President Bush's national security spokesman, said that during the phone call, Bush emphasized that missile defenses in Europe are intended to protect against the evolving ballistic missile threat from the Middle East — "a threat that we share in common with Europe and Russia."
"The presidents discussed the importance of continuing consultations at NATO on missile threats and defenses against them, and exploring options for further missile defense cooperation," Johndroe said.
Their conversation, which also included discussions about Iran, missile defense, Kosovo and other issues of mutual concern, comes amid growing tensions between Washington and Moscow over a range of international disputes.
Putin last month angrily accused the Washington of unilateralism and an over-reliance on force; the United States has warned increasingly of authoritarian tendencies in Russia under Putin.
Putin, according to the Kremlin, said the recent U.N. Security Council vote on a new resolution expanding sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program had sent Iran a "serious political signal of the need for cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the international community." Putin also said the resolution "unambiguously rules out the use of force."