U.S., Russia to sign strategic framework document

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The leaders of Russia and the United States will sign a document outlining the framework for strategic relations between their two countries at a meeting this weekend, a Kremlin source told Reuters on Tuesday.

U.S. President George W. Bush looks over at his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, June 7, 2007. REUTERS/Jim Young

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will hand over to his successor on May 7, and U.S. President George W. Bush, who is nearing the end of his term, are to meet on Sunday at Putin’s Black Sea residence.

“Experts are working on a joint document, which will become a road map of our cooperation during a transitional period and for the medium term,” the Kremlin source said. He gave no further details.

Washington and Moscow are locked in disputes over issues including U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile shield in Europe and NATO moves to bring ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia closer to the alliance.

Russia bitterly opposes both plans, saying they pose threats to its security and could damage the delicate balance of forces in Europe.

U.S. and Russian officials say the framework document is designed to allow both leaders to bequeath a stable relationship to their successors.

It is expected to note areas on which Moscow and Washington have already found consensus, and also plot a path to reaching agreement on contentious issues such as the missile shield.

Russian news agencies quoted unnamed Kremlin officials as saying the document to be signed in Sochi would contain “a mention of missile defense” but they did not give any details.

Earlier this month, Putin told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he viewed as “serious” compromise proposals Washington had submitted on the defense shield.

Good personal ties between Putin and Bush, who describe each other as friends, have helped to soothe serious rifts in bilateral ties throughout their eight-year presidencies.

Referring to the planned framework document, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday: “Of course we have to register all the achievements during the two terms of presidents Bush and Putin.”

“We start to forget about the positive elements which have accumulated in bilateral relations and it is important to put these positive elements down on paper, without forgetting the existing problems,” Peskov said.

Writing by Oleg Shchedrov; Editing by Richard Williams