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France and Germany Urge Russia to Continue Conventional Arms Pact

Germany and France have urged Russia to withdraw its threat to suspend compliance with a 1990 treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe.

In articles published in European newspapers, German Foreign Minister and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner called the treaty an anchor of stability in Europe. They said the suspension could spark new conflicts as well as a new arms race.

Russia has said it will suspend compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, effective December 12, unless NATO states ratify the accord.

The original treaty was signed in 1990, but it was revised in 1999 after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Russia has ratified the revised agreement, but the United States and other NATO countries have refused to do so until Moscow withdraws its troops from former Soviet republics including Georgia and Moldova.

The treaty limits the number of tanks, heavy artillery and combat aircraft that can be deployed or stored in Europe and western Russia.

The Russian threat followed the announcement of U.S. plans to deploy an anti-missile defense system in central Europe.

U.S. officials say 10 missiles in Poland and guidance radar in the Czech Republic would defend against missile threats from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran

Russia says the action will launch a new arms race.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.