U.S. President George W. Bush played down tensions with Russia ahead of his meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Thursday.
The current dispute with Moscow over the U.S. missile defense plan in Europe was not something "we ought to be hyper-ventilating about," Bush said shortly before he was due to meet with Putin on the sidelines of the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Germany's Baltic sea resort of Heiligendamm.
Russia is angered at the U.S. plan to deploy missile interceptors in Poland and radar units in the Czech Republic as part of a project to extend the missile defense system in Europe.
Washington insists that the deployment of the system is aimed at preventing attacks from rogue states, not Russia.
"A missile defense system cannot stop multi-launch regimes. The fact is that you can't stop two, three, four, five missiles," Bush said after a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"Russia is not an enemy of the U.S.," he added.
Putin warned earlier this week that Russia would take retaliatory measures against the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe, making the dispute a prominent issue for the G8 summit slated for June 6-8.
The G8 groups the world's eight leading industrialized nations, namely the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia.