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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S., Russia See Legally Binding Pact

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday the United States and Russia are likely to come up with a legally binding document outlining their mutual pledge to cut long-range nuclear weapons by two-thirds.

President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin "have agreed that they would like to have something that would go beyond their two presidencies," Rumsfeld said at a news conference after two days of meetings with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Referring to Ivanov's call for a legally binding document outlining that pledge, the American defense secretary said: "Some sort of a document of that type is certainly a likelihood."

Ivanov said he would like to see good progress toward such a document so that it could be signed by Putin and Bush at a May summit in Russia.

"We believe there should be a legally binding document that would be comprehensive and understandable for the whole world, and which would also reflect the transparency we need to achieve between the two countries," Ivanov said.

Rumsfeld also sought to reassure Russian officials and the world that the United States is not eyeing Russia as a potential target of nuclear weapons.

The disclosure last weekend of an internal U.S. nuclear review naming Russia and six other countries as potential threats alarmed the Kremlin and leaders of other countries.

"Without getting into the classified details, I can say that the review says nothing about targeting any country with nuclear weapons," Rumsfeld said. "The United States targets no country on a day-to-day basis."

Echoing the comments of other Bush administration officials since news reports of the document appeared, Rumsfeld said the Nuclear Posture Review was not a planning document for possible U.S. action, but merely "sets out prudent requirements for deterrence in the 21st century."

Russian officials had been briefed on the document in January, Rumsfeld said.

The document does, however, note that Russia has formidable nuclear weapons and "prudently takes this into account," Rumsfeld said.

But the relationship between the United States and Russia has undergone such a fundamental improvement that the two countries no longer view each other as adversaries, Rumsfeld said.

"The United States seeks a cooperative relationship with Russia, which moves away from the mutually assured destruction [policy] of the past," Rumsfeld said.

On Tuesday, Ivanov had told reporters "it's quite natural" that he would want to discuss the review with the people who prepared it. He told reporters that Rumsfeld's public statements about the report accurately reflect its contents.

"Secretary Rumsfeld briefed you on the true situation, and I don't have anything to add here," said Ivanov, who did not raise the nuclear issue during talks with Bush on Tuesday.

In Moscow, Putin said Wednesday that U.S.-Russian relations are growing stronger but are being hindered by Cold War-era attitudes. "Relations are developing positively, their quality has changed for the better," Putin said, according to local news reports. But he said several differences remain and that both sides need to "clarify their positions."

He did not elaborate.

 Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov tried to calm State Duma lawmakers angry over the U.S. nuclear plan Wednesday, saying there was nothing extraordinary about nuclear powers picking targets for possible attack, Reuters reported.