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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Ranch Sized Up for Putin Visit

CRAWFORD, Texas — U.S. President George W. Bush spent some "quality time" at his central Texas ranch on Friday as White House aides sized it up for a September summit with President Vladimir Putin.

Coming off his first trip to Europe since taking office and heading into a round of meetings with other international leaders next week, Bush went to his 647-hectare Prairie Chapel ranch for three days of rest and recreation.

After their summit in Slovenia a week ago, Bush said he found Putin to be a straightforward, honest man and invited him to visit his Texas home.

Bush said he would not have invited him to the ranch if he did not believe Putin could be trusted.

Putin accepted Bush's invitation to come in September. A specific date has not been set.

Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin and Assistant Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe accompanied Bush this weekend. They were making some initial assessments of how a summit at the ranch, set among rolling pastures, broad savanna and water-carved canyons, might play out.

"He and Joe are taking a preliminary look at the ranch," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.

A U.S.-Russia summit and the international attention it attracts is likely to be a challenge for the White House. The closest town is Crawford, a sleepy backwater with a population of fewer than 700 and no hotels. The nearest city of any size is Waco, about 60 kilometers away.

Bush purchased Prairie Chapel about two years ago, and with his inauguration on Jan. 20 it became the so-called Western White House. The residence is remote, and it is clearly the president and First Lady Laura Bush's favorite place to relax.

"After I speak, I'm heading to our ranch in central Texas where I will spend some quality time with Laura," he told guests at a fund-raising dinner for Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama in Birmingham on Thursday night. "I'm honored to be here … but I can't wait to get back home."

"Washington D.C. is a great place to work, but Texas is a great place to relax," he added.

This is Bush's sixth trip to the ranch since his inauguration.