The one that got away

The fish Putin caught; the agreement Bush didn't get.

Tim Grieve
July 2, 2007 10:22PM (UTC)

George W. Bush, speaking clearly at the beginning of a media availability today with Russian President Vladimir Putin: First, I'd like to congratulate President Putin for being the only person that caught a fish today. I want to congratulate the president for being the only person that caught a fish. It's a fine catch. Secondly, I welcome you to my family home.

George W. Bush, speaking not so clearly when asked if he had been "successful in getting President Putin's support on tough sanctions like cargo inspections against Iran": We spent a lot of time talking about the Iranian issue. I am concerned about the Iranians' attempt to develop the technologies, know-how to develop a nuclear weapon. The president shares that. I'm a little hesitant to put words in his mouth, but I think he shares that same concern. After all, this is an issue we've been talking about for about six years. And I have come to the conclusion that, when Russia and America speaks along the same lines, it tends to have an effect. And therefore, I appreciate very much the Russians' attitude in the United Nations. I have been counting on the Russians' support to send a clear message to the Iranians. And that message is a strong message. And hopefully we'll be able to convince the regime that we have no problems with the people in Iran, but we do have a problem with a regime that is in defiance of international norm.


Reporter: But are you . . .

Bush: Hold on a second, please. And so we discussed a variety of ways to continue sending a joint message. And by the way, one other issue that I didn't mention in my opening comments that I think you'll find interesting is that President Putin proposed a regional approach to missile defense, that we ought to work together bilaterally as well as work through the Russia-NATO Council. And I'm in strong agreement with that concept. That's all I've got to say -- if you've got something else you want to say. . . . We're close on recognizing that we got to work together to send a common message. . . .

Reporter: Mr. President, six years ago you seemed to have formed a bond with President Putin, when you said you had gotten a sense of his soul. Do you still feel that you trust him? And how troubled are you by the political freedom -- the state of political freedom in Russia?

Bush: Here's the thing when you're dealing with a world leader. You wonder whether or not he's telling you the truth or not. I've never had to worry about that with Vladimir Putin. Sometimes he says things I don't want to hear. But I know he's always telling me the truth.

A few minutes later, Putin chimed in to say that today's presidential "fishing party" shows that he and Bush " have a very similar -- we share the same fashion -- that is, passion."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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