PUTIN says he is looking forward to meeting Bush

Saturday, July 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOSCOW (AP) _ President Vladimir Putin said he is looking forward Saturday to meeting President Bush at this month's summit of industrialized nations in Genoa, Italy, and expects to make progress on key issues facing the two countries.

``I fully agree with you on the importance of early implementation of the understandings we reached in Slovenia,'' Putin said in a cable to Bush. ``I am looking forward to our meeting in Genoa.''

In the cable released by the Kremlin press office, Putin said, ``I think that now we are speaking one language, we are capable of making progress on key issues on the agenda of Russian-U.S. relations.''

Putin did not make any direct reference to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, but the two presidents agreed to hold consultations on it during their summit in Slovenia last month.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, responding to U.S. plans to begin work on a missile defense system, said on Friday that the issue would among the topics discussed at the July 22 meeting between Bush and Putin at the summit of the Group of Eight nations.

Moscow and other proponents of the 1972 ABM treaty contend that it has been the cornerstone of strategic stability.

Washington wants a missile defense system to fend off threats from smaller states antagonistic to the United States and says the system wouldn't be able to deal with the kind of massive strike Russia is capable of launching. But Russia, China and other nations have strongly opposed the U.S. plans.