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Putin: US-Russia Ties Will Improve if US Halts Missile Defense Plans

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says U.S.-Russian relations will move forward if the United States gives up its plans for deploying a missile defense system in Central Europe.

Mr. Putin stressed his country's readiness for effective cooperation. But he said relations will improve if the United States would give up what he termed "its bloc mentality" and halt its approach to expanding military alliances, a clear reference to NATO. His comments in Russia's southern Krasnodar region, came just days before U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart are to open a summit in Moscow.

Thursday, in an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Obama said Mr. Putin still has a lot of influence in Russia. The U.S. president and said he will tell Mr. Putin that old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russian relations are outdated.

Mr. Putin rejected Mr. Obama's comments saying he always looks to the future.

Earlier Friday, Sergei Prikhodko, a key advisor to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, said the two presidents will sign a framework declaration on arms reductions at the summit.

Prikhodko said the declaration will outline key instructions to negotiators of both countries working on an agreement to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expires in December. He also expressed hope for agreement on the new treaty either by the end of this year or early in 2010.

The Russian official said the two leaders also will sign an agreement on transit across Russia of U.S. military cargoes to Afghanistan.

President Obama meets with Mr. Medvedev Monday and Mr. Putin Tuesday.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.