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US, Russia Continue Missile Defense Talks


A senior American official held talks in Moscow on Monday to discuss last weeks' terrorist attacks in the United States, as well as American plans to build a national missile defense system.

The message Monday from a senior U.S. official holding talks in Moscow was that the United States believes a national missile defense shield is all the more necessary because of the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

U.S. Undersecretary of State, John Bolton met with his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov. The talks were originally scheduled for last week, but were delayed after the terrorists attacks.

The talks were to discuss U.S. plans to pull out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, which bans defensive weapons systems such as the missile defense system Washington is proposing. The U.S. says it needs such a system to defend against possible nuclear attack by so-called rogue nations, such as North Korea.

During a Moscow news conference, Mr. Bolton said the missile shield Washington is proposing could not have prevented last week's attacks. But Mr. Bolton said there is reason to go ahead with the plan. "If these same fanatics had access to ballistic missile technology and, even worse, if they had weapons of mass destruction to put on top of those missiles, there is no doubt in my mind that they would have employed them," Mr. Bolton said. "And it would be gross negligence for an American administration not to do whatever it could to defend its innocent civilians against attack in whatever form."

Russia strongly opposes U.S. plans to build a missile shield. One of the reasons they cite is that it would not protect the U.S. against terrorist attacks. Many Russian officials say that last Tuesday's attacks are an example of why they believe the missile shield is not necessary.

Russian media reported Mr. Mamedov as saying that the fight against terrorism required a "strengthening of the international order" and that the ABM treaty was "an integral part of that order."

Mr. Bolton said the two sides also discussed sales of military technology to countries Washington considers sponsors of terrorism. The U.S. has criticized Russia in the past for selling weapons and weapon technology to Iran, a country Washington considers to be a rogue state.

"There is an essentially 100 percent overlap between states that are sponsors, or harborers, or aiders of terrorism," he said, "and states which are seeking to acquire chemical or biological or nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities."

Monday's talks were in preparation for a meeting that is to take place Wednesday, between Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell in Washington.

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