Genoa, 23 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to link talks on cuts in nuclear arsenals to negotiations on a U.S. plan for a missile defense system. The two leaders met yesterday in Genoa, Italy, after the conclusion of the Group of Seven plus Russia summit.
Bush said the two issues "go hand-in-hand in order to set up a new strategic framework for peace."
Bush has directed the U.S. Defense Department to consider further cuts in nuclear weapons. Putin has suggested reductions to 1,500 warheads each -- about one-fifth of the current U.S. stockpile.
Russia, China, and several other countries oppose U.S. plans for a missile defense system, warning it could trigger a new arms race.
The system also would violate parts of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Bush says the treaty is outdated and needs to be replaced.