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Cameron, Putin talks end in a fight

2012-08-02 22:47
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Tagir Khaibulaev of Russia at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Paul Sancya, AP)

London - They held talks, then it ended in a fight.

Prime Mnister David Cameron joined Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Olympic judo competition Thursday after meeting with him in central London on Syria and trade.

It's not a stretch to describe Putin - an honorary president of the International Judo Federation - as the world's best-known judo fan. Putin has been a judo competitor since his childhood, eventually gaining the rank of black belt.

"I am delighted to be taking the president to the judo, but note that we will be spectators - and not participants," Cameron joked as the men left his Downing Street residence.

The two leaders, who have squared off over the world's response to the violence in Syria, travelled in separate cars to see the judo contests at the ExCel Centre in east London.

Military officers and uniformed police lined either side of the VIP entrances to the arena as they arrived and photographers turned their backs to the competition to make sure to grab the moment. Putin and Cameron were joined by Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague, who holds a blue belt himself.

London Mayor Boris Johnson joked that he wouldn't be surprised to see Putin try to join the competition

"I hope he will take part - isn't he a dab hand?" Johnson told reporters. "I think that's what people want to see, [Putin] stripped to the waist."

The Russian leader is renowned for his displays of machismo and fondness for posing bare-chested, but this time he stayed fully clothed in the VIP section.

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