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Bush, Medvedev Agree on Iran, Not Missile Defense

U.S. President George Bush and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev say they are united in trying to convince Iran to stop enriching uranium, but remain divided over American plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Japan, where the two leaders met on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations.

This was their first meeting since President Medvedev took office, earlier this year. President Bush says the new Russian leader is a smart guy who is comfortable, confident and says what he means. Although there are fewer than 200 days left in the Bush presidency, the American leader says he is certain that he and President Medvedev can work together for the common good.

"I reminded him that, yes, I'm leaving, but not until six months, and I am sprinting to the finish. So we can get a lot done together," said Mr. Bush. "There are a lot of important issues, like Iran. There is an issue where Russia and the United States have worked closely, in the past, and we will continue to work closely to convince the regime to give up its desire to enrich uranium."

The United States and many of its allies believe Iran wants to build nuclear weapons. Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for the peaceful civilian purpose of generating electricity.

President Medvedev says the leaders also agreed to continue working together to ensure that North Korea dismantles its nuclear weapons program. But the Russian leader continues to oppose U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

President Medvedev says he and Mr. Bush have differences over American plans to base a radar station in the Czech Republic and as many as ten interceptor missiles in Poland. The Bush administration says those missiles are meant to guard against attack from Iran and are no threat to Moscow, because they are no match for the Russian missile arsenal.

President Medvedev says he and Mr. Bush also discussed relations with Georgia. The United States wants the former Soviet republic to join NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Russia is backing separatists in the breakaway Georgian republics, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

President Medvedev says he will try to intensify an already-good dialogue in the remaining months of the Bush Administration and is positive he can build on U.S./Russia relations with the next American leader.