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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 08:58 GMT
Putin pledges 'radical' arms cuts
President Putin and President Bush
Putin and Bush: Relationship "transformed"
President Vladimir Putin has given further details of Russia's plans to cut its nuclear arsenal in response to President George W Bush's offer to slash America's nuclear stockpiles.

In remarks broadcast on Russian television, Mr Putin said he would reduce the number of Russia's long-range weapons to about one-third of its present level.


Our countries have stopped fearing one another

President Putin
"The current level does not correspond either to the present-day international situation, or to the nature of the new threats," said Mr Putin.

The two presidents are set to continue their three-day summit meeting in Texas on Wednesday, as they try to reach agreement on US plans for missile defence.

On Tuesday, President Bush delivered an historic pledge in Washington to cut America's nuclear arsenal by up to two-thirds.

Mr Putin said he appreciated the cuts and said Russia would try to respond in kind, but gave no time frame.

US Patriot anti-missile system
Missile defence is still a major sticking point
Speaking after his meeting with Mr Bush, the Russia leader said he was proposing "a radical programme of further cuts in strategic offensive weapons - down to the minimal level necessary for maintaining a strategic balance in the world".

Such a reduction would bring Russia's long-range nuclear arsenal down from more than 6,000 missiles to about 2,000.

President Bush said the US would reduce operational nuclear warheads from about 7,000 to between 1,700 and 2,200 over the next decade.

Russia is known to be keen to dismantle a large number of its own missiles because they are so expensive to maintain.

Despite progress on arms cuts, the two presidents have as yet failed to find a compromise on missile defence and the subsequent fate of the bilateral Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

Common ground

Both men stressed that the relationship between their countries had been transformed from that of the Cold War era. President Bush said it had changed "from one based on suspicion to one based on trust".

Presidents Bush and Putin have been brought closer together by the 11 September attacks on the US. President Putin was the first world leader to send his condolences, and the two men said they would co-operate to beat terrorism.

Presidents Putin and Bush in China
Bush and Putin have met several times over the past year

They also found common ground on the issue of a future government in Afghanistan - President Bush said he and President Putin backed the UN call for a broadly-based and multi-ethnic administration in the ravaged country.

However, the BBC's Philippa Thomas noted that while President Bush said the Northern Alliance would find no preferential treatment at the negotiating table, Russia has been supporting the Alliance for years - a source of potential tension.

President Bush said the talks heralded "a new day in the long history of Russian-American relations, a day of progress and a day of hope."

Reflecting this new-found trust, the US leader said there was no need for "endless" discussions on arms control.

"I looked the man in the eye and shook his hand. But if you need to write it down on a piece of paper I'll be glad to do that," he said.

Mr Putin, for his part, stressed the need for a "reliable and verifiable agreement" on cutting arms.

President Bush also said he would work to end Cold War-era restrictions on bilateral trade.

See also:

13 Nov 01 | Americas
Vagueness the key to missile summit
12 Nov 01 | Europe
Hope for US-Russia summit
21 Oct 01 | Americas
Bush and Putin hail new relationship
21 Oct 01 | Americas
Bush and Putin's promising chemistry
24 Aug 01 | Americas
Russia unmoved on ABM
20 Jun 01 | Europe
Putin delivers summit verdict
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