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Bush, Putin to talk on Iraq, Iran and oil at Camp David

By Wire services
Published September 27, 2003

WASHINGTON - President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin brought deep differences over postwar Iraq and Iran's nuclear program to a two-day Camp David summit they began Friday. But they were expected to play down those disputes and emphasize economic and antiterrorist cooperation.

Bush will appeal for Moscow's help on a new U.N. resolution on sharing the burden of the reconstruction of and keeping the peace in Iraq. Bush also will renew his objections to Russia's role in helping Iran construct its first nuclear power plant, aides said.

Putin has opposed the U.S. war in Iraq and expressed distress over the continuing conflict there. U.S. officials were heartened, however, that Putin's criticism of the American occupation of Iraq was relatively muted in his U.N. speech this week.

Putin has ruled out sending Russian troops as peacekeepers but may offer limited help as advisers, perhaps as police-force trainers, analysts suggested.

The two presidents also were expected to discuss Russia's oil resources. U.S. officials see rising Russian oil exports as an alternative to volatile Middle Eastern supplies.

Despite their policy disagreements, Bush and Putin have maintained warm personal ties.

Putin was spending Friday evening and much of Saturday at the secluded presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains northwest of Washington.

FROM U.N. TO UNLEADED: Vladimir Putin's "to do" list on Friday: meet President Bush at Camp David. Oh yeah, and help open a Manhattan gas station.

Putin and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., appeared at the ceremonial opening of the Lukoil gas station, the sort of event more likely to feature free doughnuts and coffee than a head of state.

Why would Putin squeeze this event into his four-day visit to the United States, where he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations?

The gas station is owned by Lukoil Oil Co., one of Russia's largest oil producers, which acquired Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. and its 1,300 stations in 2000. The acquisition was the first time a Russian oil company had purchased a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Pot-banging protests hit a nerve in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela - Depending on how you do it, banging on pots and pans - a traditional Latin American protest against unpopular governments and tough times - could soon land you in prison in Venezuela.

Earlier this year, opponents of President Hugo Chavez staged nightly protests, called "cacerolazos," during an unsuccessful two-month strike to oust the president. The protests didn't seem to faze Chavez.

Recently, opponents have targeted the homes of perceived government supporters, frightening families and prompting Chavez to denounce what he calls a new form of "terrorism."

Ruling party legislators say the demonstrations have become so pervasive and threatening they want them outlawed and have introduced legislation making them punishable by up to five years in prison.

Pro-Chavez lawmaker Tarek William Saab said he and his family have been the victims of cacerolazos at least 17 times over the last year - at malls, embassies, movie theaters and even a hospital where his wife gave birth. He has moved his family to an undisclosed location in Caracas.

The proposed law, according to ruling party lawmakers, would ban pot-banging protests outside the homes of public officials and those that take place on planes or lead to physical confrontations.

"It would violate freedom of expression," said Geraldo Blyde of the First Justice opposition party. His party is insisting on a two-thirds vote to pass the measure. Chavez backers are insisting on a simple majority. That, too, is illegal, Blyde says.

Authorities have 2 weeks to link suspect to murder

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A judge on Friday gave investigators two more weeks to gather evidence linking a 24-year-old suspect with a history of mental problems to the stabbing death of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

Mijailo Mijailovic, whose youth was marked by family disputes - including a conviction for attacking his father with a kitchen knife - was ordered held until Oct. 10 by Judge Goeran Nilsson.

He hasn't been charged in the death of Lindh.

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