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China Applauds US-Russia Arms Control Treaty
China yesterday welcomed a landmark nuclear arms control treaty to be signed by the United States and Russia next week. China also urged the two sides to do more to guarantee global arms control and disarmament.

"In the spirit of verifiability and non-reversibility, they should further reduce their arms and push forward the international process of arms control and disarmament," Kong Quan, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at yesterday's regular media briefing.

Kong said that countries with the largest arsenals have "special and prime" responsibilities in arms control and disarmament.

US President George W. Bush announced on Monday the agreement with Russia to cut their nuclear arsenals.

Bush said he would sign the agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two meet in Moscow later this month.

The disarmament agreement, as envisioned, would require each country to reduce its nuclear arsenal with an agreed-upon range of 1,700 to 2,200 warheads.

Bush and Putin are to meet from May 23 to 26 in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Negotiators from the two countries have been trying to work out a formal document cementing the reductions.

Dalai Lama

Turning to the Dalai Lama's visit to Australia next week, Kong said the Dalai Lama has long engaged in activities to split the motherland and create independence for Tibet.

Kong said that the Dalai Lama was not simply a religious person, but once the biggest owner of serfs.

"We oppose the meeting with the Dalai Lama and invitations by any official from any country or region under any pretext," Kong said.

Middle East

Regarding the current situation in the Middle East, Kong said China is pleased that Israel lifted its blockade of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and ended its siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Kong called it a positive step towards easing the tension and urged Israel to respond positively to international peace efforts, implement relevant resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council and take further steps to revive peace talks.

Tang's visit

Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan's upcoming visit to Afghanistan will be important because the Afghan people are beginning to rebuild their country, said Kong.

It will be the first visit to Afghanistan by a Chinese foreign minister since 1965, when the late Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Chen Yi visited the country, Kong said.

(China Daily May 15, 2002)

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