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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Grants Bush Flyover

BEIJING -- A gesture of Russian goodwill will get U.S. President George W. Bush home in time for dinner Friday after a weeklong Asian trip.

Bush will fly home from China through Russian airspace after Moscow gave Air Force One overflight permission for the first time, the White House said Thursday.

The presidential Boeing 747 will spend about three hours over eastern Russia before hitting Alaska and Canada and then descending to the lower 48 United States.

The direct route from Beijing to Washington will save Bush about an hour and 10 minutes of flight time as well as two hours of refuelling time in Alaska -- a frequent presidential pitstop on trips to Asia.

"It's a sign of our increasingly good relationship with Russia," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan told reporters, explaining the restrictions were previously imposed because Air Force One is a U.S. military aircraft.

U.S. presidents have frequently flown through Russian airspace when travelling to or from Moscow and other Russian cities. Friday's flight marks the first time Air Force One will use Russian airspace without visiting the country.

Bush is returning to Washington after a six-day trip to Japan, South Korea and China. The change of plans will get him to the Camp David presidential retreat in time for supper.