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General: Russia, U.S. to sign military cooperation deals during Obama trip
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09:56, June 27, 2009

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Russia and the United States will sign military cooperation documents during U.S. President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Moscow, Russian news agencies reported on Friday, citing the chief of the country's General Staff.

"We have determined the main issues of military cooperation for 2009 and beyond, and intend to sign these documents during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Moscow in early July," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said after a meeting with Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was currently on a three-day visit to Russia.

Makarov said they discussed a wide variety of issues, ranging from the Middle East, Afghanistan, the nuclear test of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the U.S. missile shield plan.

Mullen, for his part, said he was looking forward to the summit. "We have a lot of common challenges in the security area, whether in Afghanistan or the challenges in missile defense, or in Iran or particularly for security in Europe," said the U.S. military chief.

They provided no further details about the talks or the military agreements.

Obama is due to visit Russia on July 6-8 in an effort to reset ties with Russia, which have sunk to a post-Cold War low due to a series of rows, including last August's Georgia war, NATO's eastward expansion and the U.S. plan to deploy a missile defense system in Central Europe.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have gradually improved over the past months, particularly since Obama took office in January.

Obama has pledged to "reset" relations with Russia, but major issues remain, such as the dispute over the planned U.S. missile shield.

The former U.S. administration of George W. Bush planned to place 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic which it claimed to protect its European allies from missile threats by "rouge states."

The U.S. plan has met strong objections from Moscow, which insists that the missile defense system, if deployed, will pose a threat to Russia's national security.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that Russia was ready to conclude an agreement to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) due to expire in December only if the United States addressed Russian concerns.

"We cannot agree with U.S. plans to establish a global missile defense. I would like to emphasize that the reductions we are suggesting are possible only if the United States addresses Russian concerns," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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