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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush to Press Putin Before G8

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to voice concern about Russia's "backsliding on democracy" when he meets President Vladimir Putin before this weekend's G8 summit, U.S. officials said.

Senior U.S. administration officials briefing reporters Thursday said that, while Russia had made significant democratic reforms, Washington was worried about recent trends. They said it was a "good bet" that "our concerns about backsliding on democracy" would be on the agenda when Bush meets Putin this Friday, a day before the summit opens.

Putin sought to downplay any differences Thursday, telling an Internet conference that Bush was a "decent" friend.

Bush on Thursday said he liked Putin and warned against publicly criticizing him. "No leader likes to be scolded publicly," Bush told CNN. "The people I deal with, you know, share the same emotions that you would share if somebody were to scold you and then say, I'm going to come and now I want to sit down and talk to you." When Bush first met Putin, Bush said he was able to gain "a sense of his soul." Asked Thursday if he still had that feeling, Bush said: "I know him well, yes, I do."

(Reuters, AP)