U.S. officials opened talks at the Pentagon with their Russian counterparts Tuesday, making President Bush's case that his missile defense plan won't be an obstacle to cuts in nuclear forces.
But even before the two-day, closemouthed meeting began, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said not to expect too much at first.
Rumsfeld said the talks, which begin Tuesday, "will more likely be an exchange of information rather than an exchange of views."
He will go to Moscow next weekend to follow up.
The talks are the first in a series of three rounds designed to implement an agreement President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached July 22 in Genoa, Italy. That agreement links U.S. planning for a missile defense system with large cuts the Kremlin wants in the two nations' still-massive nuclear weapons arsenals.
After the Genoa meeting, Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, went to Moscow to elaborate on U.S. strategic thinking. Rumsfeld said Friday this week's talks are a chance for the Russians to give the results of their review.
"They will have, one would hope, a much more detailed understanding of the kinds of things we're thinking about with respect to our offensive and defensive capabilities and the various ways that our two countries can cooperate," Rumsfeld said.
Spurgeon Keeny, president of the Arms Control Association, said he did not doubt the Russians wanted a better understanding of the cloudy U.S. position.
But, Keeny said in an interview, Russia has made it clear it does not want to scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which prohibits a national anti-missile shield, "or other formal accords limiting offensive strategic arms."
Russia's 10-person delegation will be headed by Col. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, first deputy chief of the general staff, and the U.S. delegation by Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy.
Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld have talked about trying to develop a new relationship with Russia. They are hoping to soften Russia's resistance to the administration's program for a multi-billion-dollar missile shield -- one that Russia and most U.S. allies consider unnecessary, unworkable and possibly a spur to a new nuclear weapons buildup.
"There is an awful lot of baggage left over in the relationship, the old relationship, the Cold War relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union," Rumsfeld said. "It is baggage that exists in people's minds, it exists in treaties, it exists in the structure of relationships, the degree of formality of them. And it will require, I think, some time to work through those things."
Rice last week said Russia might share defense plans with the United States and buy American missile technology if the two countries are able to devise a new strategic framework.
Even membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance is not ruled out, Rice told The Associated Press. NATO was designed initially to confront Moscow.
"I am hopeful there can be a new day with Russia," Rice said. "We are talking about a bigger issue than what we do about missile defenses and strategic weapons."
She stressed that Russia had not accepted the concept.
Similarly, Rumsfeld, who was a defense secretary during the Cold War, said the Bush administration was seeking a relationship "not premised on hostility between the two countries, that is not premised on fear as to the possibility of attack."
Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to meet in New York in mid-September with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.