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Russia, US Close to Deal on Small Air-defense Missiles

Russia and the United States are close to signing an agreement on limiting the trafficking of portable air-defense missiles, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Tuesday.  

"The draft US-Russian agreement on MANPADS stipulates what MANPADS is, how often, how much information through what channels" would be exchanged between the two countries, Ivanov said at a joint news conference with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.


"And this agreement is sure to be signed pretty soon," he said in Washington, speaking through an interpreter, after meeting with Rumsfeld.


MANPADS is the acronym for man-portable air defense systems, which, security experts said, terrorists could use against commercial airliners.


Ivanov provided few details about the draft agreement but said it was in the best interests of both countries to maximally constrain the movements globally of MANPADS.


The draft accord was reached after a couple of months of talks.


"I believe this issue to be overriding -- to be fundamentally important -- not exactly only for the US-Russian relationship, but also for global security as a whole, because you know full well that terrorists of all hues and stripes try to get access to MANPADS elsewhere," he said.


MANPADS, which are easily accessible and relatively cheap on the black market, have been used in a number of conflicts against both military and civilian targets.


Rumsfeld did not comment on the draft agreement, and the Pentagon did not offer any details either.


Ivanov said he also discussed with Rumsfeld issues relating to US-Russian relations, in particular military cooperation, cooperation on security, defense and non-proliferation.


(Xinhua News Agency January 12, 2005)

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