Russian President Vladimir Putinand U.S.PresidentGeorge W. Bushheld informal talksMonday in what was seen asan attempt to patch up an often frostyrelationship between the two leaders.


U.S. President George W. Bush, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, fish near the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, on Monday. Fishing guide Billy Bush, right, and former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, behind the glass, also were aboard. ((Stephan Savoia/Associated Press))

Speaking to reporterson the lawn ofthe Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush andPutin both emphasized the need to keep the pressure on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

"When Russia and the United States speak along the same lines, it tends to have an effect and therefore I appreciate the Russians' attitude in the United Nations," Bush said. "We're close on recognizing that we got to work together to send a common message."

Putin predicted that "we will continue to be successful" as they work through the UN Security Council, which has begun discussing a U.S. proposal for sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

The Russian leaderarrived in the U.S. on Sunday as part of a two-day mini-summit. There is no official agenda, but thetwo leadershave different views on democracy and missile defence, NATO expansion into Russia's backyard and independence for Kosovo.

Before their news conference on Monday, Bush andPutin went for a ride in a powerful speedboat navigated by Bush's father — former president George H.W. Bush. Under a bright morning sunshine, Putin and the Bushes fished close to the shoreline around the Bush family's oceanfront estate for about an hour and a half.

Protesters target Bush, not visitor

While Bush and Putin were all smiles before the cameras, protesters clogged the streets around the Bush seaside home for what they called a "Death of Liberty" funeral.

Thedemonstrators unleashed acolourful paradeof fluttering banners that read "Stop the gangsters" and "Democracy has ended" —all of it ironically aimed not at the increasingly autocratic Russianleader, but at his American host.

In February, Putin said the U.S. had "overstepped its national borders" in every way.

The Russian leader has taken a tough stance against a U.S. missile system planned for Europe, even threatening to reposition Russian rockets to retaliate againstan American-engineered missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Last month, Putin surprised Bush in Germany by proposing the shared use of a Russia-rented early warning radar in Azerbaijanas a substitute for radar and interceptors the United States wants to place in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Putin has repeatedly rejected U.S. assurances that the planned missile defence installations pose no danger to Russia and are meant to counter a potential threat from other countries, such as Iran.

With files from the Associated Press