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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Senator Blasts Bush Over Summit

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday for "an excessively personal endorsement'' of President Vladimir Putin.

At a hearing on Bush's trip last week to Europe, Helms said he was "raising my eyebrows'' over Bush's assertion that Putin was "trustworthy,'' "a remarkable leader'' and a man with whom "we share common values.''

With U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell ready to testify on NATO's involvement in Macedonia, Helms read a long list of complaints about Putin's leadership. He said the Russian press had felt the "jackboot of repression,'' arms-control treaty obligations were being violated and dangerous weapons technologies transferred to "rogue states.''

"For these reasons,'' Helms said, "Mr. Putin was far from deserving the powerful political prestige and influence that comes from an excessively personal endorsement by the president of the United States.'' In fact, the North Carolina senator said, "Prematurely personalizing this relationship only undercuts the incentives he has to reorient Russia's domestic and foreign policy goals.''

At the outset, the chairman, Senator Joseph Biden, a Democrat, praised Bush's actions in Europe and said he was "very heartened'' by the talks Bush held with European leaders on issues of substance.

Bush made his remarks about Putin after meeting with the Russian leader for the first time Saturday at a summit near Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Wednesday that Russian and U.S. officials are increasing cooperation based on the weekend meeting.

"We have started implementing the understandings reached in Ljubljana on bilateral relations and international issues, in particular strategic stability," Ivanov said during a meeting with outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Russia James Collins, Interfax reported.

"There are still problems between our countries and there are differences, but this situation need not be dramatized," Ivanov said. "If there are threats, if there are challenges, they should be tackled together. This approach is more effective and reliable."

Collins said that within two months senior U.S. officials would come to Russia for talks on economic ties.

Also, Putin adviser Igor Sergeyev said after talks in Washington on Wednesday that no progress had been made in a dispute over missile defense.

"We had talks … but we just exchanged opinions," Sergeyev said on RTR television after talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. "The Americans haven't had time to digest everything that happened in Ljubljana."