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Published:April 4th, 2008 02:12 EST
Russian President Putin meets with NATO leaders

Russian President Putin meets with NATO leaders

By SOP newswire

Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting with NATO leaders in Bucharest today, a day after the alliance backed U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in central Europe.

Support of the plans at the NATO summit came despite Russia's continued opposition to the missile defense system, which Moscow calls a threat to its security.

Also Thursday, NATO officials said Ukraine and Georgia are not yet ready to start the entry process into the alliance, but stressed their commitment to eventually bring both former Soviet states into membership.

Russia has said it does not want NATO expanding further along its borders.

Ahead of Friday's talks, a NATO spokeswoman announced that Mr. Putin will sign a land transit deal with the alliance to allow the shipment of non-lethal freight across Russian territory to Afghanistan.

Mr. Putin will host U.S. President George W. Bush Sunday at the Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks expected to focus on the missile defense issue.

The United States says the planned system is aimed at protecting Europe from an attack from the Middle East.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.