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U.S.- Russia talks to include missile defense

MOSCOW (CNN) -- A Russian official said Tuesday the United States will agree to limit development of its proposed missile-defense system when the two nations sign a nuclear-arms reduction treaty later this week, but the Bush administration countered that it is not "negotiating" with its former Cold War foe on any restrictions.

There will, however, be a joint declaration focusing on how the two countries can cooperate on missile defense, a senior White House official told CNN.

"We are still talking about the language in the joint declaration, but the United States has always said that we are constructing a limited system -- but we are not limiting our defense system in a negotiation," the senior official said.

"We are working on language in the joint declaration with regards to cooperation on missile defense," the official said.

Earlier Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said, "It will be stated in the text of the declaration [apart from the treaty] that the national missile defense [system] being designed in the United States will have a limited character."

He made his comments to a joint meeting of the international affairs committees of the Russian Federal Assembly.

The declaration will help ensure that the United States doesn't pose a threat to Russia's strategic interests, Ivanov said.

President Bush leaves on a European tour Wednesday, and plans to arrive in Moscow Thursday for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bush is to leave Russia Sunday.

In Washington in mid-May, the two leaders agreed to a landmark nuclear-arms reduction treaty that would cut each nation's store of between 5,000 and 6,000 warheads by about 65 percent over the next decade. The resulting number of warheads held by each country would range from 1,700 to 2,200.

According to the Russian news agency Interfax, Ivanov told lawmakers that Russia and the United States will "independently" determine the method for strategic offensive arms reduction under the treaty.

In signing the agreement, "We actually have the first legally binding treaty to be signed by the U.S. administration," Ivanov said.

Monday, U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Bush and Putin will issue a joint political statement "that puts in context this new era in U.S.-Russian relations."

"There will be a statement on economic relations, a statement on relationships between citizens. We expect a counter terrorism statement. There are a number of others that are being discussed, but these are all representative of the working agenda that the United States and Russia are going to pursue over the next several years," Rice told reporters during a briefing.

--White House Correspondent Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.




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