Russian NGO leaders upbeat after meeting with Bush

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Representatives of Russian non-governmental organizations said a meeting held on Friday in advance of this weekend's Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg with United States President George W. Bush was successful.
ST. PETERSBURG, July 14 (RIA Novosti) - Representatives of Russian non-governmental organizations said a meeting held on Friday in advance of this weekend's Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg with United States President George W. Bush was successful.

Igor Chestin, the head of the World Wildlife Fund's Moscow office, said the meeting was successful for both sides, and that NGO representatives took an interest in Bush's reaction to their statements, which touched upon the controversial Russian NGOs law, the fight against terrorism, and the U.S. signing up to the Kyoto protocol.

Chestin said Bush gave his overall approval to the idea of the U.S. joining the Kyoto protocol. "He said a situation where Europe, Russia and the whole world are acting in line with Kyoto, with the U.S. following a different scheme, was wrong," he said.

U.S. President George Bush arrived in St. Petersburg Friday and will be joined by the leaders of France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Germany for the start of the G8 summit on Saturday.

Irina Yasina, the head of interregional public organization Open Russia, said media issues, the situation in Chechnya and the state of democracy in Russia had also been discussed. She said: "I had an impression that the U.S. president was interested, and he got answers to his questions."

Igor Chestin also said he had conveyed a request to the U.S. leader from American NGOs that Bush meet with them upon his return from Russia.

"On the request of my American colleague, the U.S. WWF director, I asked Bush to meet with U.S. public organizations after he returns from the summit, as he has had no such meetings scheduled," the Chestin said.

The Moscow WWF representative said U.S. NGOs had "many problems" they would like to discuss with their president.

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