President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin met Saturday to discuss a U.S. push for more international troops and more foreign assistance to help rebuild Iraq. Mr. Putin says he will wait to see a new U.N. resolution before deciding whether to send Russian troops to Iraq.
President Bush is lobbying for a new U.N. resolution on Iraq establishing a multi-national security force under U.S. command and getting more nations to help pay for Iraq's reconstruction.
"I recognize that some countries are inhibited from participation because of the lack of a U.N. resolution," he said. "We are working to get a satisfactory resolution out of the U.N. We spent some time discussing that today."
Before the U.S.-led invasion, President Putin joined French and German leaders in opposing Mr. Bush's decision to act without U.N. approval. Since then, he has generally avoided criticizing Mr. Bush directly. He pointed out that their differences over Iraq have not hurt U.S.-Russian relations.
"Despite differences over Iraq, these differences have not led to worsening of relations, either between you [us] personally, or between our two countries," he said.
President Putin says the United Nations should now have a central role in Iraq's political and economic transition in working with the country's U.S.-appointed governing council. "We want to see Iraq a free, democratic, and united state. We believe that in solving the very difficult problems that the people of Iraq are facing today, an important role shall be played by the provisional governing council of Iraq along with the special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations," he said.
Asked how he will respond to the U.S. request for troops and money for Iraq, Mr. Putin said he would wait to see what comes out of the U.N. resolution, which is currently being worked on in New York.
President Bush's meeting with the Russian leader follows a busy week of diplomacy, during which he also discussed Iraq with the leaders of France, Germany, Pakistan, and India.
The president says he is pleased with international cooperation in Iraq so far, and looks forward to having more countries join the process.
During his talks with the Russian leader at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Mr. Bush says they also discussed the need for North Korea to give-up its nuclear weapons program.
Mr. Bush backed President Putin's military approach to Chechen separatists, saying terrorists must be opposed wherever they spread chaos and destruction, including Chechnya.
Mr. Bush says a lasting solution to the violence not only requires an end to terrorism, but also a respect for human rights and free elections.
President Putin has been looking for U.S. support for his approach to Chechnya, after accusing Washington of holding secret talks with a former Chechen president. U.S. criticism of Russian military operations there has lessened since President Putin joined the U.S.-led campaign against international terrorism, following the September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.