US and Russia: from Cold War foes to burger buddies

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American and Russian leaders once arrived at Cold War summits ready to swap fierce rhetorical grillings.

But when presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev met Thursday, the grilling was of a purely culinary kind, as they dodged superpower protocol to slip out to one of the US leader's favorite burger joints.

Symbolizing warmed US-Russia ties, Obama and Medvedev traveled in the same presidential limousine from the White House to the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia, for lunch at "Ray's Hell-Burger."

The informal jaunt was squeezed in between an Oval Office meeting and a joint press conference back at the White House.

After surprising lunchtime patrons, Obama and Medvedev chatted to staff and ordered at the counter of the restaurant, which has won rave reviews for the quality of its 10-ounce steakhouse-style burgers.

After Obama footed the bill, they than sat together at one of the restaurant's simple tables, together with interpreters.

Obama munched on a cheddar cheeseburger with onions, lettuce, tomato, and bread-and-butter pickles washed down with ice tea.

Medvedev went for the cheddar-cheeseburger with onions, jalepeno peppers and mushrooms, along with a bottle of Coke.

But the two slim and youthful leaders shared a portion of French fries.

Obama must be a fan of "Ray's" -- he lunched at the same restaurant last year with Vice President Joe Biden.

© 2010 AFP

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