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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Last Dance in Sochi for Outgoing Presidents

APU.S. President George W. Bush walking with President Vladimir Putin along the shore of the Black Sea near the presidential residence in Sochi on Saturday.
SOCHI, Krasnodar Region -- President George W. Bush and his host, President Vladimir Putin, didn't allow what have been strained relations and a host of unresolved issues between their countries to put a damper on their last dinner together.

Instead, they danced.

During a dinner on Bush's arrival at Putin's official summer home in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the two leaders not only enjoyed the fare but also even took part in the entertainment.

"An unbelievably good dinner," was how Bush described it to reporters Sunday.

So good that Putin and Bush climbed up onstage to dance to the music of the Russian and Cossack folk ensembles that performed for them at the dinner.

Daniel Fried, U.S. assistant secretary of state for European affairs, was also called up and "seemed to know what he was doing," Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

They did a "Russian version of the African move," Perino told reporters, explaining later on the sidelines of the presidents' Sunday meeting that Bush danced in a similar manner on a trip to Africa.

And it seems that it was the power of the moment that dragged them up on stage, not the more traditional Russian power of the drink. Perino said she couldn't speak for Putin, who is known for drinking only in moderation, but that Bush didn't drink anything except water and Diet Coke.

"Bush looked great. He not only danced on the stage but also did not leave it until he had shaken hands with just about every member of the big folk-dancing ensemble that performed for them, a Kremlin official who attended the dinner said," Reuters reported.

"I'm only happy that my press corps didn't see me try to dance the dance I was asked to do," The Associated Press quoted Bush as saying the next day.

"Too bad. They would have seen for themselves you are a good dancer," Putin replied at the start of the talks.

There were six people at the presidents' table for Saturday's dinner, with the Bushes and Putin being joined by President-elect Dmitry Medvedev. Putin sat to Bush's left, while Bush's wife Laura took a seat to her husband's right. Medvedev was seated next to the U.S. first lady.

Putin met Laura Bush with a big bouquet of pink roses when the Bush family arrived at the residence. No information that Putin's wife Lyudmila or Medvedev's wife Svetlana had attended was provided by either the Kremlin or the White House.

Saturday's dinner lasted for about 2 1/2 hours and the menu included venison fillet with vegetable salad and pickled wild mushrooms with raspberry sauce, blini with red caviar and trout, veal loin with baked potatoes and red currant sauce, kulebyaka with salmon and king crab meat, and berry pie with ice cream.

Perino said she didn't think that the presidents talked a lot about business although she added that Bush did have a conversation with Medvedev.

While Bush and Putin relaxed, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat next to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, apparently preparing for Sunday's talks, The Associated Press reported. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters later that the final version of the declaration the presidents adopted Sunday was agreed upon during the dinner.

Sochi earned the right last year to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, with Putin's lobbying efforts playing a major part in that victory. Russian television carried tape of Putin showing Bush a model of the infrastructure to be put in place for the games. The briefing for the presidents on the Winter Olympics was delivered to the accompaniment of a string quartet.

Putin listened silently as Alexander Tkachyov, governor of the Krasnodar region, and Dmitry Chernyshenko, president and chief executive of the organizing committee for the Sochi games, showed Bush and his wife around the exhibit.

He couldn't resist cutting in with a joke, though.

"This is your yacht," he told Bush, pointing to a tiny ship in a watery region of the model, Russian wires reported.

Speaking Sunday, Bush said the Sochi presentation was impressive, adding that Putin might even invite him for the games. Putin nodded.

After the presentation, Putin took Bush for a short walk across his residence to the sea, where the two watched the sunset, the Kremlin said.

Located inside city limits and surrounded by a yellow wall, the Bocharov Ruchei compound, which hosted the presidents' meetings, was built after Stalin's death for vacationing Communist Party leaders.

A short walk from the sea, the residence has a guesthouse, but the Bushes and their entourage stayed at the Lazurnaya Radisson SAS, a posh hotel in the city center. The hotel was closed to other guests, and Anatoly Naumov, a taxi driver with friends on staff, said the Federal Security Service ran a series of inspections and tested food at the hotel for several days before the Bushes' arrival.

"He was comfortable," Perino said of Bush.

Small Russian flags were put up on the lampposts on the way to the Sochi residence. There were no U.S. flags on the posts because it was not a state visit, a Kremlin spokesman said.

A host of traffic police standing guard along the Bush motorcade's route through the city were told not to put their hands in pockets or underneath their jackets to avoid being fired on by Bush's security detachment.

Besides Rice, Bush was accompanied by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Burns.

Scott Stanzel, deputy White House press secretary, said the number of assistants traveling with Bush was around 100. Russian news services put the total number of the Bush delegation at 700. Perino said that number was probably too high, while Stanzel added that the Bush security detail ran in the hundreds.

The presidents were scheduled to have one last meal together after the Sunday talks before Bush flew out of Sochi later Sunday.