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US, Russian Defense Ministers Discuss Nuclear Arms Cuts - 2002-04-29

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov say they have made some progress toward joint nuclear arms cuts.

The two officials made the announcement after more than two hours of talks in Moscow. The men emerged from their talks at Sheremetyevo airport with positive assessments, but no details.

Mr. Ivanov told reporters the talks focused largely on proposals that the Russians handed the Americans some five days ago. He said some progress was made. His words were echoed by Mr. Rumsfeld, who added the talks would continue in Washington later this week.

Neither Mr. Rumsfeld nor Mr. Ivanov would say if an agreement would be ready for signature by the time U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian Vladimir President Putin meet in Moscow next month.

Russia and the United States have agreed to slash their nuclear stockpiles by about two-thirds over the next decade. They have been negotiating the details, but one of the stumbling blocks has been the American insistence to "store" some of its de-commissioned weapons rather than destroy them.

Mr. Rumsfeld's discussions here were the latest in a series of meetings between senior American and Russian officials, as both countries prepare for next month's presidential summit.

Moscow was the last stop on Mr. Rumsfeld's four-day, five-nation tour, which included Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Mr. Rumsfeld thanked Central Asian leaders for their support for the U.S.-led war against terrorism, and urged their continued cooperation. In Afghanistan, he met with U.S. and allied troops at Bagram airbase outside Kabul, and held talks with interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.