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US Reaffirms Stand on Missile Shield - 2001-09-04

The Bush administration is reaffirming its stand on missile defense talks with China. White House officials are again stressing that they will not be offering the Chinese any concessions in order to win Beijing's support for a missile shield.

For the second time in three days, the White House is denying it has any plans to strike a deal with Beijing on missile defense.

On Sunday, administration spokesmen took issue with published reports that the United States might be considering steps to ease Chinese fears of a missile shield. Now comes a written statement from the President's Press Secretary, underscoring that message.

In the statement, Ari Fleischer says the United States wants to convince Beijing that the proposed missile shield does not pose a threat to China. He says it is designed to offer protection from terrorists, rogue states and accidental missile launches.

Mr. Fleischer says once again that China will be briefed about U.S. plans to test the missile shield. But he stresses America will not agree to any resumption of nuclear testing by China and urges all nations to abide by the nuclear test ban treaty. He also makes clear America's opposition to China's plans to upgrade its offensive nuclear missile stockpile remains unchanged.

The White House spokesman says no one should try to blame the modernization of China's offensive nuclear forces on America's missile defense efforts. He says the Bush administration plans to tell the Chinese the build-up is unnecessary and not good for regional stability.

Unlike Russia - which also opposes the U.S. defense shield - China does not have a treaty with the United States that deals with long range missiles. But it is a nuclear power and the Bush administration takes Beijing's opposition very seriously.

Officials say the Chinese Foreign Minister will come to Washington later this month to discuss missile defense and other issues. In late October, President Bush will hold his own discussions with Chinese leaders in Beijing and Shanghai, where he will attend the annual summit of Pacific-rim nations.