China and Russia Monday reiterated the importance of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, saying that they support the preservation of the document as it is.
The stance was made clear in a joint statement issued after a two-hour meeting between visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Calling the ABM Treaty the cornerstone for strategic stability and the basis for cutting down strategic offensive weapons, China and Russia advocated the further slashing of such weapons on the basis of maintaining and abiding by the treaty.
The issue also came up during the talks between Jiang and Putin. According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jiang expressed China's willingness to strengthen co-operation with Russia in the field.
The support for the 1972 treaty followed a US test over the weekend in which a missile defence interceptor successfully hit its target. The United States has been seeking a revision in the treaty to pave way for its development of missile defence systems and warned that it would withdraw from the treaty if changes are not possible.
China and Russia issued a joint statement last July during Putin's visit to China, voicing their support to the ABM Treaty.
Jiang and Putin, in Monday's joint statement, called for more international efforts to prevent the proliferation of missiles and missile technology and urged further discussion by all relevant countries about the possibility of establishing a global mechanism based on equality and non-discrimination to prevent the proliferation.
They also expressed their firm opposition to the deployment of weapons in outer space.
Monday's meeting was the second between Jiang and Putin this year. Last month, the two held talks in East China's Shanghai on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization.
Both presidents, during Monday's talks, said they are willing to strengthen bilateral co-operation, with a particular emphasis on the economic aspects.
Official statistics indicate that trade volume between the two countries achieved an increase of 40 per cent last year and may very well register another increase of 43 per cent this year.
There is huge potential for co-operation between China and Russia, said Jiang.
Russia is willing to enhance its co-operation with China in high-tech, machine-building, chemical industry, energy resources, aviation and personnel exchanges, Putin said, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Monday's joint statement, however, includes a more detailed list of the areas of interests for co-operation, which includes natural gas and oil, nuclear energy and the global promotion of peace.
Jiang Monday also met former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Jiang expressed his admiration to Yeltsin for closely following the development of bilateral relations after his retirement.
Both agreed that the Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Co-operation Jiang signed with Putin earlier Monday would benefit both countries and contribute to world peace.