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Russia, China Reaffirm Support for ABM Treaty - 2001-07-16

Russia and China say they want the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) to be preserved unchanged so it can serve as the basis of international stability. The statement was part of a joint declaration issued following talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

The statement said Russia and China stress the basic importance of the ABM treaty, which, it said, is the cornerstone of strategic stability and the basis for reducing offensive weapons.

U.S. plans to build a missile-defense system contradict the ABM treaty, which President Bush has said he wants to either amend or scrap.

China and Russia are firmly against the American plan. Both countries condemned a U.S. test of the controversial system on Saturday. Russia called the test a clear threat to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. China responded with a call for Washington to listen to what it called - widespread international opposition - to the anti-missile shield.

Mr. Putin intends to bring the Russian and Chinese views to Italy and his scheduled talks with President Bush at the G-8 summit in Genoa.

In addition to the joint statement in support of the ABM treaty, Mr. Putin and Mr. Jiang also signed a new bilateral friendship pact aimed at setting the course of future relations between the two countries.

The treaty, known as the Good Neighbor Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, includes promises to respect each other's borders and territorial integrity.

It is the first major agreement between Russia and China since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It is also their first official declaration of friendship since a 1969 Chinese-Soviet border war.

Both countries have said they are not planning any kind of military or political alliance, and that the friendship treaty is not a threat to anyone.