Russia says to ink U.S. military deal at summit

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and the United States will sign deals on military cooperation when U.S. President Barack Obama visits Moscow next month, Russia’s top general said on Friday.

“We have outlined the main issues of military cooperation for 2009 and beyond,” the head of the Russian general staff, General Nikolai Makarov, said after a 90-minute meeting in Moscow with his U.S. counterpart, Admiral Michael Mullen.

“Our intention is that those documents should be signed when U.S. President Barack Obama arrives here in Moscow in July,” Makarov said.

Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, made no mention of any military agreements after the talks but said he was looking forward to the outcome of Obama’s visit to Russia in early July.

The military top brass said they discussed a wide range of common concerns, ranging from North Korea’s nuclear test to Iran and Afghanistan. They gave no further details about the talks or about the military agreements.

Mullen, on his first visit to Moscow, said the meeting was frank and open. The military talks follow renewed efforts by the two countries to reset relations which have become strained by events such as last year’s Georgia war and NATO’s expansion eastwards.

“I’m very encouraged by our meetings and our mutual commitment to address these issues and strengthen our military-to-military cooperation,” said Mullen.

“We have many common challenges ... whether in Afghanistan or the challenges in missile defense, or in Iran or particularly for security in Europe,” he added.

Obama travels to Moscow from July 6-8 for a summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev where the agenda will include further cuts to aging nuclear arsenals and U.S. plans to install an anti-missile defense system in Europe.

“I very much look forward to the outcome of the very important summit between Presidents Obama and Medvedev in two weeks,” said Mullen.

“I can’t emphasize enough my belief that we need to work on these very hard challenges to improve security not just in Europe, but in the world,” said Mullen.

Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Richard Williams