Putin wishes Bush well after heart surgery, in apparent swipe at Obama

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent former President George W. Bush a telegram Thursday wishing him a speedy recovery after heart surgery, just a day after President Obama pulled out of a planned bilateral summit next month in Moscow.

The telegram, reported by Reuters, was seen as a swipe to President Obama, who canceled plans to attend talks with Putin in protest of the decision by Russian authorities to grant National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum.

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The message from Putin was sent after Bush underwent a procedure to open a blocked artery that was discovered during a routine physical. Bush has been released from the hospital after a stent was used to open the artery.

On Wednesday, the White House announced President Obama would not participate in talks to be hosted by Putin, citing Snowden as a factor.

"When you have summits like these, you want the kind of progress prior to them to be sufficient enough to merit a meeting of the leaders," White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday.

While the Bush-Putin relationship soured toward the end of the Bush presidency, the Republican president was initially a fan of his Russian counterpart. After a meeting in 2001, Bush praised Putin and went on to invite him to visit his ranch in Texas.


"I looked the man in the eye," Bush said at the time. "I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul. He's a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that's the beginning of a very constructive relationship."

President Obama also reached out to his predecessor to extend his well-wishes.

President Obama was "glad to hear the procedure went well and that former President Bush is recovering," Carney said.

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