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No Deadline for US-Russia Arms Control Agreement - 2001-08-24

A senior American official has again said the United States has not set a deadline for finding agreement with Russia on resolving the future of a key arms control treaty. The latest comment came Friday following talks in Moscow between U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

Mr. Bolton stressed that contrary to earlier reports there is no deadline for finding agreement on the future of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. "There are no deadlines," he emphasized. "There weren't any deadlines on Tuesday and there aren't any deadlines today."

The American official was commenting on reports earlier this week that he had given Russia an "unofficial" deadline of November to resolve differences over the ABM treaty. Late Thursday, President Bush said the United States will drop the ABM treaty "on our own timetable."

The 1972 agreement does not allow Washington to build the anti-missile defense system it has planned. The United States has said that if agreement cannot be reached on changes to the treaty then Washington will exercise its right to pull out of accord. Moscow has said it will not agree to any changes in the ABM treaty, which it considers the cornerstone of international stability.

Mr. Bolton described his unscheduled talks with Mr. Ivanov as being devoted to preparing further meetings between American and Russian leaders. "We discussed most significantly the preparations for the meeting that Foreign Minister Ivanov will have during his trip to Washington with Secretary of State Powell on September 19, and further preparations that they will need for the meeting of the two presidents first in Shanghai and then in Crawford, Texas," he said.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Bush meet in Shanghai in October and at Mr. Bush's Texas ranch in November.