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Bush Proposes Nuclear Reduction in Talks with Putin

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2001 – President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to the press today about progress and hope following their meeting in the White House.

Bush announced plans to reduce the U.S. offensive nuclear weapon inventory to between 1,700 and 2,200 operationally deployed warheads. "A level fully consistent with American security," he said.

The United States currently fields about 6,000 warheads. The number would put the U.S. nuclear arsenal below the benchmark of 2,000 to 2,500 warheads agreed to by former presidents Clinton and Yeltsin in 1997 as part of the framework for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty 3.

Bush and Putin discussed defensive weapons. "We have different points of view about the ABM Treaty," Bush said. "We will continue dialogue and discussions about the treaty to develop a new framework that allows both of us to meet the true threats of the 21st century as partners and friends, not as adversaries."

Bush said Russia and the United States are working toward changing the relationship from one of hostility and suspicion to one based on cooperation and trust. The two countries are working together to combat terrorism. He said Russia and United States share the same threat and resolve.

"We will fight together to defeat terror networks wherever they exist," Bush said. Of special importance for the two countries is preventing terror groups from getting weapons of mass destruction: "We will strengthen our efforts to cut off every possible source of biological, chemical and nuclear materials and expertise," Bush said.

The two nations resolved to improve physical protection and accounting for nuclear materials and prevent illicit nuclear trafficking.

The two presidents agreed to cooperate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan once the Taliban is gone. They reinforced their agreement to support the United Nations call for a broadly based, multiethnic government. "Any new government must not export terror or drugs and must respect fundamental human rights," Bush said.

Bush would like to see Russia as a full partner in European prosperity and security. "In Europe, we share a vision of a Euro-Atlantic community whole, free and at peace," Bush said. "One that includes all of Europe's democracies and where the independence and sovereignty is respected.

"Russia should be a part of this Europe and we will work together with NATO to build new avenues of cooperation and consultation between Russia and NATO."

Bush and Putin will travel to Bush's home in Crawford, Texas, Nov. 14 for more talks.

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