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U.S. President Bush arrives in Moscow

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U.S. President George W. Bush has arrived at a Moscow airport, a Kremlin official said Wednesday.
MOSCOW, November 15 (RIA Novosti) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has arrived at a Moscow airport, a Kremlin official said Wednesday.

During a 45-minute refueling stop in Moscow, Bush will meet briefly with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the Pacific Rim countries' summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Putin and his wife met the Bush couple and accompanied them to the airport terminal, where an informal breakfast will take place.

Bush and Putin are expected to discuss Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, and the situation in Iraq and around Iran's controversial nuclear program, Kremlin aide Sergei Prikhodko said.

The U.S. has agreed to sign a bilateral protocol, opening the way for Russia to become a WTO member. The countries' presidents are expected to sign the document on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hanoi November 19.

Prikhodko praised the U.S. agreement to sign the document after lengthy disputes over access to Russia's financial system and U.S. meat imports. "This means that they have the political will to promote trade and economic and political ties with Russia. It is a tribute to Bush and the U.S. leadership," he said.

The Russia-U.S. bilateral protocol will end six years of Russia's negotiations on WTO accession. Russia, the largest economy outside the 150-nation alliance, has yet to sign bilateral agreements with Sri Lanka and the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia, which have troubled relations with Moscow.

Putin and Bush are also expected to discuss the fragile security situation in Iraq and Iran's controversial nuclear program, Prikhodko said.

The Bush administration came under increased pressure to improve post-invasion Iraq's security situation after the Democrats gained control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in last week's midterm elections.

Prikhodko also said: "The Russian president may inform his counterpart on Moscow's efforts to resolve the situation around Iran's nuclear program, including during the recent visit of Iran's Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani."

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Larijani paid a three-day visit to Moscow last week to discuss EU-proposed sanctions against the country over its nuclear program, which Iran insists is purely geared towards nuclear-generated electricity, despite international fears that it is part of a secret weapons program.

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