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Bush: U.S. to have own timetable for ABM pullout



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President George W. Bush said Thursday the United States will withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia, but did not specify a timeline for backing away from the longstanding arms control agreement.

"We will withdraw from the ABM treaty on our timetable," Bush said, speaking at a school in Crawford, Texas, where he is on vacation.

Abandoning the ABM treaty would be a step toward the eventual creation of a national anti-ballistic missile defense system. Thus far, Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected the Bush administration's push for a joint withdrawal from the treaty, which bans missile defense programs.

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Bush said, however, that "Mr. Putin is aware of our desire to move beyond the ABM treaty, and we will."

The treaty requires notice of six months before a party can withdraw. The president is scheduled to meet with Putin in November at his Texas ranch.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld indicated Thursday he was not aware of Bush's comments when he spoke with reporters at a Pentagon briefing a short while later, and he declined to discuss a possible timeline. "That's a presidential call, and that's something that he'll address -- what he decides to do about it at all, as well as when he decides."

Rumsfeld also denied recent reports that he has scaled back his expectations for reshaping the U.S. military as he continues his review of the services.

"To be able to scale back your expectations, one would have to know what my expectations had been and where they are now, neither of which have been publicly revealed because I was still developing my expectations and have not gotten to the point where scaling back is appropriate."

He said his expectations for his Quadrennial Defense Review, which reports say has gotten a chilly response from military brass and some officials, were "realistic" at the beginning of the review process, and remain so today.

"The idea that we've gone from telling the services what to do down to telling the services 'do anything you want' reflects an inability to understand nuance," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld calls his review of the military "ongoing."  

Rumsfeld said the review was ongoing, and did not say whether it will result in a smaller military.

Among the ideas discussed during the preparation of the so-called defense planning guidance is eliminating some Army troops, Navy aircraft carriers and Air Force planes.

But Pentagon officials said the final guidance will not contain specific numbers for troop levels or weapons, and it remains uncertain whether there will be any cuts.

Additionally, Rumsfeld is scheduled to travel to Crawford on Friday with Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, where he and Bush will announce that Myers is the president's choice as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.







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