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The BBC's Richard Lister
"Both sides are looking for compromise"
 real 56k

Saturday, 19 May, 2001, 04:58 GMT 05:58 UK
Bush and Putin set for summit

US President George W Bush and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will have their first meeting next month in Slovenia.

The 16 June meeting will come at the end of Mr Bush's tour of Europe. The Russian and US presidents are also due to attend an international summit in Italy in July.

We hope that in Washington we will get clarification on questions which remain on the anti-missile plan

Igor Ivanov
The news emerged as the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, began an intensive round of talks in Washington, with US missile defence plans one of the main points of contention.

After meeting the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, Mr Ivanov said the environment was "very constructive".

Russian criticism

Russia has been one of the strongest critics of US plans for a national missile defence system and there has been a bitter row over allegations of espionage.

The BBC Washington correspondent, Richard Lister, says there are signs that both countries want to improve their relationship.

Colin Powell
Powell wants to hold talks on a new arms control treaty
Mr Ivanov is also to hold meetings with President Bush and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Mr Ivanov said he would seek explanations on the planned US anti-missile defence shield.

"We hope that in Washington we will get clarification on questions which remain on the anti-missile plan," he said.

"We intend to set down our position and initiatives on boosting strategic stability so that no one's interests are hurt," he added.

Missile controversy

Last week, a team of American experts went to Moscow but failed to persuade the Russians to drop their objections to the proposed missile shield.

Patriot anti-missile system
The system faces diplomatic hurdles

Russia opposes the plans, saying they threaten international strategic stability.

The Russians echoed comments made in other capitals, namely that the Americans were thin on detail and that the talks raised more questions that they answered.

Mr Powell said earlier in the week that the two sides might begin to discuss the wording of a new arms control treaty.

Russia and China denounce Mr Bush's suggestion that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is obsolete.

The Bush administration says a post-Cold War system must be developed to protect against "rogue states" like North Korea and Iraq.

Mr Ivanov expressed his hope that the period of difficulties which Russia and the US encountered at the start of the new US administration's activities is over.

"Opportunities to establish constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation are opening up now. Moscow is ready for this, is interested in this," he added.

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See also:

11 May 01 | Europe
Russia wary of US missile plan
04 May 01 | Europe
Why Russia fears US 'Star Wars'
07 May 01 | Americas
US bullish on 'Star Wars'
20 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
'Star Wars' makes a comeback
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