An Iowa political analyst says this week’s warm meetings between President Bush and Russian president Vladimir Putin signals the start of closer relations between the countries. ISU professor Steffen Schmidt says one reason’s as simple as their similar size. He says both are small and wiry, and can look one another in the eye. Schmidt says while the two seem to have struck up a personal friendship, their countries also share an enemy.The clash of cultures is not between capitalist and communist, US and Russia, but very different views of the Islamic world, and the West. Schmidt says culturally, Russia is a western nation, with a lot in common with the U-S. Schmidt says this week’s meetings could be the start of better US-Russian relations than we’ve had since before the Cold War. He says both sides have realized they don’t want, and can’t afford, lots of nuclear weapons that are basically obsolete today. The two countries may have found their common interests much more quickly, says Professor Schmidt, under the pressure of recent events. The tragedy of September eleventh was kind of a bucket of cold water thrown on both Russia and the United States. Schmidt says not only do the presidents of both nations seem to genuinely like each other, but they have trade, national security and other interests in common that could help them forge strong links between Russia and the U-S.