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Bush, Putin to Meet in Texas - 2001-11-14

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in a few hours at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas. They will continue discussions begun Tuesday at the White House.

The pomp and ceremony of the White House will be replaced with the distinctive hospitality of a small Texas town.

The White House says this is a chance for the two men to meet in a casual setting and get to know each other a bit better. Presidential Spokesman Ari Fleischer says the goal is to build an even better personal relationship between the leaders of the United States and Russia.

They will appear in public only a few times during Mr. Putin's 22 hour visit to Crawford. There will be brief glimpses of the two Presidents at arrivals and departures from the ranch. And they will speak Thursday at a local high school, where they will also take questions from students.

White House officials say the President and First Lady see the visit as an opportunity to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Putin to their own home, rather than the executive mansion. The rambling ranch house sits on an isolated stretch of land in the heart of Texas, with open fields dotted by cedar trees. A select group of guests has been invited for a casual dinner at the house featuring a menu of spicy local dishes and music from a group called "The Ranch Hand Band."

The dose of Texas hospitality follows talks in Washington that focused on two issues - the war on terrorism and arms control. At a joint news conference Tuesday Mr. Bush announced plans for deep cuts in long range nuclear warheads. President Putin said Russia would follow suit, but he made clear differences remain about the fate of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

The treaty, in its current form, would not permit deployment of a U.S. missile defense shield. White House officials say they do not expect any breakthroughs soon on the ABM issue, certainly not in Crawford where the discussions will be more personal and geared towards the broader issue of building stronger ties between two leaders and two countries.