MOSCOW, June 26 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian-U.S. military cooperation agreement will be signed during President Barack Obama's visit to Moscow in early July, the chief of the Russian military's General Staff said on Friday.
Army Gen. Nikolai Makarov said a draft had been finalized with Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, currently on a three-day visit to Russia.
"We discussed a number of very serious and important matters related both to international and regional security. The main emphasis was laid on European security," Makarov said.
Adm. Mullen is to meet with Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, with U.S. missile defense in Europe expected to top the agenda according to media reports.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that any strategic arms cuts would only be possible if the United States eased Russia's concerns over Washington's plans for a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.
The U.S. military has recently reiterated its commitment to missile defense, citing a growing threat from North Korea and Iran, but suggested plans for a European site may change.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested that Russian facilities could be part of the missile defense system, but Moscow has rejected this idea, saying there could be no partnership "in building facilities that are essentially designed to counter Russia's strategic deterrence forces."
Meanwhile, Russia and the U.S. are involved in talks on a new strategic arms reduction deal to replace the START I treaty, which expires in December.
Moscow, which proposed a new arms reduction agreement in 2005, expects Washington to agree on a deal that would restrict not only the numbers of nuclear warheads, but also place limits on all existing kinds of delivery vehicles.
However, Russia has insisted that the deployment of a planned U.S. missile defense system in Europe would greatly impede progress on strategic arms reductions.