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Obama praises Putin at first meeting

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R), his wife Svetlana (2nd R), U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and first lady Michelle Obama pose for a picture at the presidential residence Gorki outside Moscow July 6, 2009.

Obama praises Putin at first meeting

NOVO OGARYOVO, Russia (Reuters) – Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised Russia’s most powerful politician, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as the two leaders met for the first time, saying there was an excellent opportunity to improve U.S.-Russia relations.

Visibly awkward, the two men exchanged pleasantries at the start of a meeting at Putin’s forest residence outside Moscow overshadowed by Obama’s criticism of Putin last week in a pre-trip interview as a man with one foot stuck in the past.

“I am aware of not only the extraordinary work that you’ve done on behalf of the Russian people in your previous role as prime minis-, uh, as president, but in your current role as prime minister,” Obama said.

Putin, looking down and mostly avoiding eye contact with Obama, said there had been periods of greyish mood and confrontation in U.S.-Russia relations but added:

“We link hopes for development of our relationship with your name.”

Obama’s meeting with Putin, a former KGB spy who served as president from 2000-2008 before handing over the top Kremlin job to his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev, follows talks on Monday with Medvedev.

They produced agreements on a target for cuts in nuclear arms, a deal to let U.S. troops fly across Russia to fight in Afghanistan and the establishment of a joint governmental commission to improve relations between the two former Cold War superpowers.

On the second day of his visit to Russia, Obama was also due to deliver a major speech on democracy, the global economy and the U.S.-Russian relationship to students at Moscow’s New Economic School.

Obama sought to reassure his student audience, who listened politely in silence, of his vision for better relations between Washington and Moscow but acknowledged continued differences between the two countries on issues such as missile defence and NATO expansion.

“Let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia,” Obama said in a speech to the graduating students from Moscow’s New Economic School.

SPHERES OF INFLUENCE

The speech was not, as would have been expected for a U.S. presidential address, shown live on Russian television channels. The media have generally given a rather low profile to Obama.

“…we also recognise the future benefit that will come from a strong and vibrant Russia.”

Obama is on the second day of a visit to Russia intended to “reset” relations between the world’s two biggest holders of nuclear weapons following a period of tension and argument.

“This must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the White House,” Obama said of the “reset” in his speech.

“It must be a sustained effort among the American and Russian people to identify mutual interests, and to expand dialogue and cooperation.”

Obama made clear his opposition to the old Soviet concept of “spheres of influence”, an allusion to Moscow’s claim on special influence over former Soviet states like Ukraine and Georgia.

Instead he urged the students to strive for a peaceful, collaborative world in words which some Russia-watchers said recalled those of former U.S. president Bill Clinton during his visits to Moscow.

“The future does not belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground,” Obama said. “The future belongs to young people with the education and imagination to create.”

He was speaking after a first meeting with Russia’s most powerful politician, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who kept a close personal rapport with Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush despite poor diplomatic relations.

U.S. officials described the meeting as “very succesful” and said the two men had formed the basis for good relations.

Obama and Putin exchanged pleasantries at the start of talks at Putin’s forest residence outside Moscow overshadowed by Obama’s criticism of the Russian leader last week in a pre-trip interview as a man with one foot stuck in the Cold War.

Obama was quick to praise Putin for “extraordinary work” but Putin avoided eye contact with Obama and looked down at the floor as he made opening remarks, saying there had been periods of greyish relations and confrontation between the two nations.

After the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, Putin came out of his residence to wish Obama farewell.

Obama’s meeting with Putin, a former KGB spy who served as president from 2000-2008 before handing over the top Kremlin job to his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev, followed talks on Monday with Medvedev.

They produced deals on a target for cuts in nuclear arms, a deal to let U.S. troops fly across Russia to fight in Afghanistan and the establishment of a joint governmental commission to improve relations between the two former rivals.

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Obama to meet Dalai Lama despite China warnings

Obama to meet Dalai Lama despite China warnings

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama still plans to meet the Dalai Lama, the White House said on Tuesday, despite China’s warning that such a meeting would hurt ties already strained by U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan.

Digging in on two points of discord, China vowed to impose unspecified sanctions against U.S. companies selling arms to Taiwan and said any meeting between Obama and the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader would hurt bilateral ties.

The White House shrugged off Beijing’s warning.

“The president told China’s leaders during his trip last year that he would meet with the Dalai Lama and he intends to do so,” White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters travelling with Obama to New Hampshire.

“We expect that our relationship with China is mature enough where we can work on areas of mutual concern such as climate, the global economy and non-proliferation and discuss frankly and candidly those areas where we disagree.”

China has become increasingly vocal in opposing meetings between foreign leaders and the Dalai Lama, who Beijing deems a dangerous separatist. A meeting between the Tibetan leader and Obama would raise tensions between the world’s biggest and third-biggest economies.

Zhu Weiqun, a vice minister of the United Front Work Department of China’s ruling Communist Party, said Beijing would vehemently oppose a meeting.

“If the U.S. leader chooses this time to meet the Dalai Lama, that would damage trust and cooperation between our two countries, and how would that help the United States surmount the current economic crisis?” said Zhu, whose department steers party policy over ethnic issues.

China routinely opposes meetings between the Dalai Lama and foreign leaders, especially after violent unrest spread across Tibetan areas in March 2008. Beijing blamed the Dalai Lama’s “clique” for the turmoil, a charge he repeatedly rejected.

Previous U.S. presidents, including Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, have met the Dalai Lama, drawing angry words from Beijing but no substantive reprisals.

But when French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not pull out of meeting the Dalai Lama while his country held the rotating presidency of the European Union in late 2008, China hit back by canceling a summit with the EU.

The Dalai Lama has said he wants a high level of genuine autonomy for his homeland, which he fled in 1959. China says his demands amount to calling for outright independence.

China recently hosted talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama but they achieved little.

The United States says it accepts Tibet is a part of China but wants Beijing to sit down with the Dalai Lama to address their differences over the region’s future.

Ties between the United States and China have also soured over trade and currency quarrels, cyber security and control of the Internet, and Beijing’s jailing of dissidents.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington wanted to “work through” disputes in various bilateral meetings the United States has with China.

“You have two of the most powerful nations on earth and our interests coincide in many areas and our interests collide occasionally in a handful of those,” he told reporters.

A senior Democratic senator said on Tuesday he had asked 30 U.S. companies, including Apple, Facebook and Skype, for information on their human rights practices in China in the aftermath of Google’s decision to no longer cooperate with Chinese Internet censorship efforts.

“Google sets a strong example in standing up to the Chinese government’s continued failure to respect the fundamental human rights of free expression and privacy,” Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin said. Google, the world’s top Internet search engine, said last month it would not abide by Beijing-mandated censorship of its Chinese-language search engine and might quit the Chinese market entirely because of cyber attacks from China.

Recent cyber attacks on Google were a “wake-up call” and neither the government nor the private sector can fully protect the U.S. infrastructure, Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence, said on Tuesday.

“Malicious cyber activity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication,” he said in written testimony for a Senate intelligence committee hearing.

“China’s aggressive cyber activities” were among challenges posed by the Chinese military, Blair added.

‘DAMAGE TRUST’

There had been expectations that Obama would meet the Dalai Lama as early as this month, when the Tibetan leader visits the United States. The White House has not announced a schedule.

Zhu Weiqun, a vice minister of the United Front Work Department of China’s ruling Communist Party, said Beijing would vehemently oppose a meeting.

“If the U.S. leader chooses this time to meet the Dalai Lama, that would damage trust and cooperation between our two countries, and how would that help the United States surmount the current economic crisis?” said Zhu, whose department steers party policy over ethnic issues.

China routinely opposes meetings between the Dalai Lama and foreign leaders, especially after violent unrest spread across Tibetan areas in March 2008. Beijing blamed the Dalai Lama’s “clique” for the turmoil, a charge he repeatedly rejected.

Previous U.S. presidents, including Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, have met the Dalai Lama, drawing angry words from Beijing but no substantive reprisals.

But when French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not pull out of meeting the Dalai Lama while his country held the rotating presidency of the European Union in late 2008, China hit back by canceling a summit with the EU.

The Dalai Lama has said he wants a high level of genuine autonomy for his homeland, which he fled in 1959. China says his demands amount to calling for outright independence.

China recently hosted talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama but they achieved little.

The United States says it accepts Tibet is a part of China but wants Beijing to sit down with the Dalai Lama to address their differences over the region’s future.

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Italian Prime Minister wishes to hold Michelle refused, Obama cold-alert

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Berlusconi wanted to embrace Michel, who was only willing to shake hands

Italian Prime Minister wishes to hold Michelle refused, Obama cold-alert

BEIJING, September 26 by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi lust is “recognized the fact that” even the U.S. president Barack Obama appears to have been heard his wife. In the G8 summit in Italy in July, Obama was photographed images refused to shake hands. 24-day G20 dinner, the old couple at bay once again suffered an embarrassing Obama.

According to Hong Kong, “Wen Wei Po” report, the dinner, Obama is responsible for his wife to the host as welcome, is the Italian media as a “sex addiction” to see the old shell, when the U.S. first lady Michelle seemed very happy, out arms and hands and embraced each other. Surprisingly, Michel far out a hand, indicating the handshake greeting, so that the scene looked very embarrassed. More noteworthy is that, standing on the side of Obama look of indifference, Xieni old shell appears to be very vigilant.

The contrast, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, are to be embraced ritual “treatment,” Brown, Michelle Gengrang cheek kiss, but two exceptions to the old shell.

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