ABM Treaty Vital for Stability

The leaders of China and Russia said yesterday they wanted the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) pact between Moscow and Washington to be preserved unchanged as a basis of international stability.

The United States has been seeking a revision of the treaty and warned that it would withdraw if changes are not possible.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin made their statement in a joint declaration signed in Moscow.

"Russia and China stress the basic importance of the ABM treaty, which is a cornerstone of strategic stability and the basis for reducing offensive weapons, and speak out for maintaining the treaty in its current form," they said.

The support for the 1972 treaty followed a US test over the weekend in which a missile defence interceptor successfully hit its target.

US plans to set up an anti-missile defence against potential attacks from "rogue states" appear to violate the ABM treaty, which limits the extent to which Russia and the United States are permitted to provide themselves with defences against strategic ballistic missile attack.

China and Russia issued a joint statement last July during Putin's visit to China, voicing their support for the ABM treaty.

Jiang and Putin, in yesterday's joint statement, called for more international efforts to prevent the proliferation of missiles and missile technology.

They urged further discussion by all relevant countries on the possibility of establishing a global mechanism based on equality and non-discrimination.

They also expressed their firm opposition to the deployment of weapons in outer space.

Yesterday'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 said yesterday 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 percent 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.

Jiang yesterday also met former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Jiang expressed his admiration to Yeltsin for closely following the development of bilateral relations after his retirement.

(China Daily HK Edition 07/17/2001)

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