Monday, June 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

USA, Russia agree on plutonium cut
Differ on ABM treaty

MOSCOW, June 4 (PTI) — US President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin, at their first formal summit in the Kremlin, today agreed to dispose of 34 tonnes of plutonium that can make thousands of nuclear warheads but failed to resolve differences over the fate of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty.

Under the $ 6 billion deal, each side will destroy 34 tonnes of plutonium from its military stock over 20 years. The two sides also agreed to set up a joint centre to be set up in Moscow to monitor missile launches to avert “false” nuclear attack alarm.

But the two Presidents remained at odds on the proposed anti-missile system to protect their countries from missile attacks by “rouge” states, highly-placed sources were quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

Russia insists that the deployment of national missile system by the USA to ward off possible missile attacks by rouge states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea would lead to the collapse of 1972 ABM treaty and the whole system of nuclear arms control.

In his interview to NBC on the eve of Mr Clinton’s arrival in Moscow, President Putin proposed to set up a joint US-Russian missile shield to protect the territories of the two nuclear super powers and their allies from rouge missiles.

At their first round of talks this afternoon, Mr Clinton and Mr Putin also discussed a wide range of issues relating to international security, including non-proliferation, situation in south Asia, Middle East and the Balkans.

As observers here were sceptical about an agreement on missile-defence system between the two sides, the USA and Russia agreed to continue bilateral consultations to try and narrow down the divergences.

The two leaders also discussed international terrorism, organised crime and illegal drug trafficking.

After over an one-hour one-to-one session aided by US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Kremlin International Affairs aide Sergei Prikhodko and their interpreters, Mr Clinton and Mr Putin joined their delegations for a plenary session of talks. Briefing reporters, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said Mr Clinton and Mr Putin were devoting equal time to economic and security issues.

At the start of summit talks, Mr Putin greeted Mr Clinton in the Kremlin’s ornate St. Catherine’s hall. Both broke into smiles as they approached each other and chatted in English before sitting down in gilt upholstered armchairs to start their talks.

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