Bush And Putin Plan Maine Summit

US President George W. Bush (C) chats with Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival at Vnukovo Airport 15 November 2006 in Moscow. Bush was due to meet with Putin during a refueling stop in Moscow en route to Singapore where he will stop for a visit before heading to Vietnam for the APEC Summit. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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With U.S.-Russian relations under heavy strain, President Bush and President Vladimir Putin will meet July 1 and 2 at the Bush family's oceanfront compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, administration officials said Wednesday.

"It's an opportunity for him and President Putin to continue what is always, for the two of them, candid and very honest conversations about things that matter," Bush spokesman Tony Snow said.

Putin has already been to Camp David and the president's ranch, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, so for their next summit, Mr. Bush is inviting the Kremlin leader to his parent's place in Maine.

Why there? Snow said, "Why not?" He called it "a cool place to have it."

The session comes at a time when many experts say relations between the two nations are at their lowest point since the Soviet era.

On Tuesday, Putin warned that the planned U.S. missile shield for Europe would turn the region into a "powder keg."

Mr. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have all tried to reassure the Russians that the missile system is aimed at preventing attack by a rogue state against the United States or Europe.

Washington and Moscow are also at odds over Kosovo, a province of Serbia that is under U.N. and NATO administration. Russia has called a Western-backed draft U.N. resolution that would endorse supervised independence for the Serbian province unacceptable.

The two leaders will discuss Iran, civil nuclear cooperation, missile defense and other issues, Snow said.

"Cooperation between the United States and Russia is important in solving regional conflicts, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction and combatting terrorism and extremism," Snow explained in announcing the visit.

Mr. Bush and Putin also will see each other next week in Heiligendamm, Germany, during the annual summit of industrialized nations.

Russia views U.S. activity in its former sphere of influence with growing suspicion. Earlier this month, in a speech, Putin denounced "disrespect for human life, claims to global exclusiveness and dictate, just as it was in the time of the Third Reich."

The Kremlin insisted that Putin had not meant to compare the Bush administration's policies with those of Nazi Germany, but the reference appeared to highlight Russia's annoyance at what it sees as U.S. domination of world affairs.

Soon after, in Moscow, Rice won agreement from Putin to tone down Russian tough talk in an effort to improve strained ties. Neither side, though, gave ground on their disagreements over missile defense and Kosovo.