To many of the leaders gathering in Latvia who had expected to see a chastened U.S. president in the aftermath of his party's midterm election losses, Mr. Bush's ambitious Sudoku agenda came as a complete surprise.
"All of those critics out there who expected George W. Bush to roll over for the next two years are going to be sorely disappointed," said Portuguese president An & iacute;bal Cavaco Silva. "He had a lot of pencils sharpened and he seems totally prepared to use them."
While some NATO leaders seemed nonplussed by Mr. Bush's Sudoku agenda, British Prime Minister and fellow lame duck Tony Blair pledged to join the president in completing 20 Sudoku puzzles a day, pronouncing the puzzles "jolly good."
Prof. Davis Logsdon, who heads up the political science department of the University of Minnesota, said that Mr. Bush's ambitious Sudoku agenda may represent an opportunity to secure his legacy for his eight years in office.
"In President Bush's first six years, gas prices shot up to $3 a gallon and the budget deficit soared to $248 billion," Dr. Logsdon said. "These Sudoku puzzles could be his last chance to show he's good with numbers."
Elsewhere, top Chechen rebels turned down Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer to meet with him over sushi.
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