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Russia: Bush And Putin Open Summit

Moscow, 24 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin opened summit talks today at the Kremlin. The talks are expected to culminate in the signing later today of a landmark nuclear-arms-reduction treaty. The accord will cut each country's number of nuclear warheads by two-thirds, to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012. Bush has hailed the agreement as proving that Russia and the West are no longer enemies.

Bush opened his Moscow visit this morning by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Bush's talks with Putin were also expected to focus on the war against terrorism, the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, and U.S. concerns that Russian firms may be aiding Iran's development of nuclear arms by helping it build a nuclear power plant. Russia has denied helping Iran in this way. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov called the suggestions groundless.

Bush also addressed the German parliament yesterday. He told his European allies to put differences with the U.S. aside and to transform NATO into a strong force to fight terrorism.

Tomorrow, Putin will take Bush to St. Petersburg, where he will tour cultural spots and meet university students.