The United States is set to cut on its defensive armaments irrespective of whether an upcoming May bilateral summit will bring forth a related treaty or not. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this addressing a news conference at Sheremetyevo-1 airport following a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov. Mr Rumsfeld echoed his Russian counterpart's assertion to the effect that the two countries had achieved progress in negotiating the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The presidents have instructed their foreign and defence ministries to think hard about new relations between the two countries, recalled Mr Rumsfeld. The Pentagon chief agreed that it is up to the presidents to decide when the Treaty should be signed. He went on to recall President Bush's pronouncement that no matter whether the Treaty will be signed at the summit or not the US is going to bring its defensive arms down to 1,700 -- 2,200 warheads. For many years contacts between Russia and the US had been confined to arms control only, Mr Rumsfeld said emphatically. However, the two countries have raised their relations up to a higher level, a level not limited by arms control activities alone. Sergei Ivanov, on his part, said that at his numerous meetings with Mr Rumsfeld, they had addressed a wide range of political, economic and security problems. Russia and the US, he said, are the countries which have long ceased to be enemies.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea