WASHINGTON -- When Russian President Vladimir Putin makes his first visit to the White House on Tuesday, President Bush hopes he can overcome Russian objections to his missile defense plans with promises of new cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
What the two presidents can accomplish the next day at Bush's Texas ranch -- over a chuck-wagon picnic with crooning cowboys -- is less tangible, but perhaps more important to Bush's war on terrorism and his broader agenda for U.S.-Russia relations.
On Bush's wish list for his three days with Putin are several issues, both long-range and immediate, that could benefit from the personal friendship and trust that Bush hopes to cultivate in a mix of formal White House talks and down-home hospitality at his 1,600-acre ranch in central Texas:
Unflinching Russian support in the U.S.-led war against Osama bin Laden, his al-Qaida terrorist network and its allies in Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.
Putin has called the terrorists behind the Sept. 11 attacks a common enemy and vowed to help "fight this evil."
A deal to begin reducing warheads on each side.
Bush will present to Putin the results of a nuclear strategy review by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and announce plans to send two-thirds of America's stockpiled nuclear warheads to the scrap heap.
Softening of Russian opposition to U.S. missile defense.
Experts monitoring U.S.-Russia talks expect Bush and Putin to arrive at sometime at an executive agreement that the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty could be interpreted to permit testing of a system to protect the United States.