MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia warned the United States on
Thursday against unilateral moves to dump a landmark pact
banning missile defense, saying it could destabilize the
international situation already tense due to Afghanistan .
Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov told visiting U.S.
Under-Secretary of State John Bolton that a move by the United
States to leave the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty would be
a mistake, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
``During the talks the Russian side once again noted the
negative consequences for international stability of any U.S.
decision to unilaterally leave the 1972 ABM treaty, which is
supported by the vast majority of countries,'' it said.
``It would be particularly dangerous given the current
difficult international situation,'' the communique said, a
clear reference to the U.S.-led military campaign in
The U.S. embassy was unavailable for comment on the meeting
between Mamedov and Bolton, who arrived in Moscow to prepare
this weekend's talks in the Russian capital between Secretary
of State Colin Powell and senior Russian officials.
The United States and Russia, legal successor to treaties
signed by the Soviet Union, can give six months notice to quit
the ABM pact.
But while Russia sees it as the keystone of strategic
stability -- it provided the basis for more than 30 other arms
control accords -- President Bush views the treaty as a relic
of the Cold War era.
The ABM treaty bans the sort of shield that Bush wants to
build to protect the United States from attacks by so-called
''rogue states'' like North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Libya. Moscow
partly shares Washington's concerns but says the danger is
exaggerated and that international terrorism poses a more
pressing threat. However, the two sides have agreed to pursue
talks on the issue in tandem with deep cuts to their nuclear
arsenals. The exact scope and nature of those nuclear warhead
reductions have yet to be thrashed out.
Defense analysts believe a possible compromise could see
Washington offer arsenal cuts nearer the lower end of the
2,200-1,700 range on the table, while allowing missile defense
testing and retaining the ABM treaty in some form.
Moscow's muted reaction to this week's successful downing
of a dummy warhead on a ballistic missile over the Pacific
Ocean, suggested the two sides, partners in the war on
terrorism launched after September's attacks on U.S. cities,
are still searching for a compromise.
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