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Bush, Putin fail to agree on missile defense



(CNN) -- After a three-day summit, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have failed to reach an agreement on missile defense, but have promised to keep talking.

"We have a difference of opinion," Bush said Thursday. "There's no doubt the United States and Russia don't agree on every issue ... but our relationship is strong enough to endure this difference of opinion."

"I believe the Russia-U.S. relationship is one of the most important relationships we can have, and the stronger it is, the more likely it is that the world can be at peace," he said.

The two presidents held talks in both Washington and at Bush's private ranch in Texas, but no breakthrough was made in the dispute over the U.S. missile defense program and the administration's related desire to set aside the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

The two leaders remained upbeat, however.

"We have met four times now," Bush said. "We have made a lot of progress on key issues, (but) there is more work to be done."

Putin, in turn, expressed confidence that Bush was someone whom he could trust.

"President Bush is a man who does what he says," the Russian leader said. "I can assure you the Russian people fully share the commitment to work with the American people."

The two presidents did reach a consensus earlier in the week on reducing each nation's stockpile of nuclear warheads, but a great deal of work will have to be accomplished to make that a reality.

"After long consultations with people inside our government, I announced that we were going to reduce our nuclear arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads over the next decade. That is a tangible accomplishment," Bush said. "(President Putin) too will make an announcement at some point in time."

Friendship

The two presidents' aim for their personal relationship, Bush said, is to assure that the bilateral relationship stays strong long past the time when their terms in office draw to a close. Part of assuring close cooperation, he said, is continued cooperation in the multi-pronged campaign against international terrorism.

Putin plans to travel to New York from Texas at the end of the week. There, he will tour the World Trade Center site.

President Bush also announced Thursday he had accepted an invitation to visit his Russian counterpart in Moscow early next year, to capitalize on discussions held this week.

"We haven't figured out a time yet," the president said, "but in that I'm from Texas, and kind of like the warm weather, I was hoping to wait a couple of months."

Bush and Putin appeared together at a Texas high school on Thursday and answered questions posed by students and residents of Bush's adopted hometown.

Bush's private ranch is situated nearby. He brought Putin and the Russian first lady to Crawford at midweek to introduce them to Texas, and continue their talks on issues of missile defense and weapons proliferation.

Bush said he hopes to travel to both Moscow and Putin's hometown, St. Petersburg.



 
 
 
 



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