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President Bush Welcomed in Croatia Following NATO Summit


U.S. President George W. Bush is scheduled to deliver a speech later Saturday in Zagreb, Croatia, before he travels to Russia for another round of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Bush dined Friday night in Zagreb with Croatian President Stipe Mesic and other dignitaries. Mr. Bush lauded Croatia as a close and trusted ally.

President Bush arrived in Croatia Friday after leaving the NATO summit in Bucharest where the alliance invited Croatia and Albania to begin membership talks.

While in Romania, Mr. Bush also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Putin later said he was pleased with the discussions. He said there can be no return to the Cold War and welcomed what he called recent U.S. willingness to listen to his country's concerns about American plans to deploy an anti-missile defense system in central Europe. But he again criticized continued NATO expansion, particularly any movement toward Russia's borders.

Mr. Putin will host Mr. Bush Sunday at the Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks expected to focus on the U.S. anti-missile defense plans, which won summit backing Thursday.

Russia strongly opposes the system as a threat to its security.

The United States says the planned system is aimed at protecting Europe from an attack from the Middle East.

Earlier, NATO and Russia signed a transit deal allowing the shipment of non-lethal freight across Russian territory to alliance forces in Afghanistan.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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