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White House Acknowledges Putin Proposal
Washington (AFP) June 7, 2000 - The United States cautiously acknowledged a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia should work with the European Union and NATO to build a joint missile defense system, the White House said.

"We are looking to find out more details about whether this represents anything new or is just what he said to (President Bill Clinton) over the weekend," said White House spokesman PJ Crowley Tuesday.

The spokesman said that when Clinton and Putin met in Moscow, they promised "to continue to discuss these issues."

The proposal, made by Putin during a visit with the Italian prime minister on Monday, comes as Washington and Moscow are discussing a US proposal to deploy a National Missile Defense system to protect it from "rogue states."

The project would require changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, a move Russia opposes.

Putin's proposal is "clearly an effort to propose an alternative to Clinton's plans," according to Joseph Cirincione, defense specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think-tank.

But Washington is unlikely to take it seriously, due to "strong pressure" from a US defense industry that won't want Russian companies to share in the financial benefits of building a missile shield, Cirincione said.

US Defense Secretary William Cohen had late Monday called Putin's proposal "a step forward."

"It's certainly a step forward to say there is a missile threat, which the president of Russia now recognizes," said Cohen of Putin's comments.

During a visit to Rome Monday, Putin called on the European Union and NATO to join forces with Moscow and set up a joint anti-missile shield.

Putin had said at a news conference such a move would "avoid creating problems linked to an imbalance in the equilibrium of forces."

He said it would also "ensure 100 percent the security of all European countries, with the obvious involvement of our American partners."

The Russian leader and US President Bill Clinton failed during a weekend summit in Moscow to agree on US plans for an anti-missile shield.

image copyright AFP 2000 NATO Hails "Spirit Of Cooperation"
Brussels (AFP) June 6, 2000 - NATO on Tuesday hailed the "spirit of cooperation" in a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin for the EU and NATO to join forces with Moscow on a common anti-missile shield.

"We welcome his comments," said a NATO spokesman. "They show a spirit of cooperation on arms control issues and concerning the threat of weapoons of mass destruction."

He noted, however, that Putin had provided "few details" of his proposal.

After talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato in Italy Monday, Putin called on the European Union and NATO to join forces with Moscow and set up a joint anti-missile shield.

"This will avoid creating problems linked to an imbalance in the equilibrium of forces and ensure 100 percent the security of all European countries, with the obvious involvement of our American partners," Putin told a Rome press conference.

"We have asked the Italian government to think about Russia's proposal" and discuss it with its European collegues, he added.

"We know that many in Europe are concerned about their security and what will happen to the 1972 ABM (anti-ballistic missile) treaty. We share the same view," Putin said.

US Defense Secretary William Cohen, commenting on Putin's proposal, said, "It's certainly a step forward to say there is a missile threat, which the president of Russia now recognizes."


Copyright 2000 AFP. All rights reserved. The material on this page is provided by AFP and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

MILSPACE
 Putin Shifts Position On ABM Shield During Visit To Italy
Rome (AFP) June 5, 2000 - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Europe should set up its own anti-missile shield, with participation from NATO and the United States, after talks here Monday with Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato.




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