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US, Russia Agree on Arms Cuts


The United States and Russia have reached an agreement to drastically reduce their nuclear arsenals. A formal treaty is to be signed when U.S. President George W. Bush comes to Russia for a three-day summit that starts on May 23.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the announcement of the agreement and said a document will be ready to be signed when Mr. Bush visits Moscow.

Mr. Putin said he is pleased with results of the negotiations between the two countries. He gave much of the credit to Mr. Bush, saying the complicated issues could not have been resolved without the attention of the American leader.

A short while earlier, President Bush announced that a treaty would be signed, which he said would "liquidate the legacy of the Cold War."

The agreement was reached following talks here between U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton and his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov.

The main issue to be overcome had been Russian objections to U.S. proposals to store nuclear warheads rather than destroy them after they have been removed from missiles.

Another issue had been Russia's insistence that the new agreement be in the form of a formal treaty. Mr. Bush had pushed for something more informal. In the end, Mr. Putin prevailed, and now both countries will have to ratify the treaty before it goes into effect.

But not everyone in Russia supports the idea of a reduction in nuclear arms. Just last month, a group of retired Russian generals ran full-page ads in Russian newspapers condemning the arms agreement and Russia's closer ties with the West.

Mr. Bush and Russian President Putin agreed during talks in Texas last November that nuclear arsenals should be cut to between 1,700 and 2,220 for each country. Russia and the United States each currently have 6,000-7,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenals.

The arms reduction agreement comes during a period of increasingly close ties between the two countries. President Putin's decision to join the U.S. fight against terrorism is just one of several steps marking a significant shift in Russia's attitude toward Washington and the West.

Even Russia's concerns about America's planned missile defense system have become less of an issue than they were a year ago. Relatively little has been said lately about the Bush administration's decision to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, which prohibits such a system.

There are still significant issues of concern between the two countries including U.S. objections about Russian nuclear technology transfers to Iran. But there are already signs of cooperation in that area too. When Secretary Powell raised the issue on Russian TV Sunday, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the two nations could work together to resolve it.

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