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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Tells Putin He Will Cut Arsenal

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush pledged Tuesday to reduce the United States' long-range nuclear arsenal by two-thirds or more over the next decade, to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads. President Vladimir Putin said he would "try to respond in kind."

Emerging from their first White House summit, Bush said his decision would leave the United States with a supply of warheads "fully consistent with American security."

At a joint news conference, the two men said they had found common ground on numerous issues -- the war on terrorism and the shape of a future government in Afghanistan among them. But they said disagreements remain over U.S. plans to develop a missile defense shield. They planned to continue discussions on the subject over the next two days at Bush's ranch in Texas.

In remarks that relegated the Cold War to a distant memory, Bush said the discussions with Putin herald "a new day in the long history of Russian-American relations, a day of progress and a day of hope."

Said Putin: "We intend to dismantle conclusively the vestiges of the Cold War."

Bush's announcement of unilateral cuts redeemed a pledge he made during last year's presidential campaign. The United States has roughly 7,000 intercontinental nuclear warheads. Russia has an estimated 5,800.

The U.S. president also said he would work to "end the application" of Cold War-era legislation that restricted trade.

Bush said he and Putin had agreed to support a UN call for a "broadly based and multi-ethnic" government in Afghanistan to replace the Taliban.

"Russia and America share the same threat and share the same resolve" to battle terrorism, he said. "We will fight and defeat terrorist networks wherever" they exist.

The two presidents found one more thing to agree on -- support for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Bush said the Pakistani leader "deserves our nation's support," and Putin said a few moments later, "We agree with this." Musharraf has led his country firmly into the coalition against the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan.

Putin made clear he continues to oppose Bush's plan for a missile defense system. Bush came to office pledging to develop a shield, even if it meant scrapping the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty negotiated with the Soviet Union. In deference to Putin's assistance in the war against terrorism, though, the administration recently announced a delay in some missile defense tests, saying it wanted to avoid bumping up against the treaty's prohibitions.

Bush's comment about trade restrictions referred to the 1974 Jackson-Vanik legislation. Designed to lift emigration curbs on Jews and other minorities, it forced the Soviet Union to permit mass departures in order to qualify for trade privileges.

"Russia is fundamentally a different place," Bush said. Because of progress on Jewish migration, he said, "my administration will work with Congress to end the application of Jackson-Vanik to Russia."

Bush said he had adopted a new approach on arms control, one based on trust that does not require "endless hours of arms control discussions." "I looked the man in the eye and shook his hand. But if you need to write it down on a piece of paper I'll be glad to do that," he said. "We don't need arms control negotiations to reduce our weaponry in a significant way."

The two presidents met in the Oval Office, lunched in the mansion's Blue Room and then addressed reporters in the East Room from two brand-new lecterns specially designed for Bush and built by hand by the White House Communications Agency.

Meeting Monday with Russian reporters, Bush said he and Putin were on the verge of forging a relationship that "will outlive our presidencies." Bush said he would respond to Russia's quest for stronger links to Western institutions by asking NATO, which has absorbed former Soviet republics and crept up to Russia's doorstep, to "go beyond the current relationship" with Moscow.

On Wednesday, on his way to Bush's ranch in Texas, Putin will stop in Houston for a meeting with former President George Bush and a speech at Rice University to business leaders.

On Thursday, the presidents and their wives will visit Crawford High School, and Putin will address the news media at the nearby Waco, Texas, airport before departing for New York, where he will tour the ruins of the World Trade Center and take questions on a National Public Radio call-in show.