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The botched test was an acute embarrassment to the Pentagon and Clinton, who is due to take a decision on whether to deploy the 60-billion-dollar system by the year's end.
Russia, US Set To Lock Horns Over Missile Shield
Nago, Japan (AFP) July 20, 2000 - Russian President Vladimir Putin looks set to lock horns with US President Bill Clinton over a US scheme for a ballistic missile shield at a Group of Eight summit here.

In a pre-summit Asian tour, Putin won backing from Chinese President Jiang Zemin and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Il against the national missile defence (NMD) scheme.

Barely two weeks ago, the United States admitted an interceptor rocket had failed to shoot down an incoming dummy warhead during a 100-million-dollar test of its prototype NMD system.

The botched test was an acute embarrassment to the Pentagon and Clinton, who is due to take a decision on whether to deploy the 60-billion-dollar system by the year's end.

The United States was already under pressure to defend the NMD from Russia and its allies at a G8 foreign mininsters last week in the southern Japanese city of Miyazaki.

But Putin appeared to be turning up the heat ahead of the three-day G8 summit starting Friday in Naha, a beachside city on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

On Tuesday he issued a joint statement with Jiang specifically aimed at the system.

"Russia and China appeal to the international community to pay great attention to those countries who are trying to develop by force an anti-missile defence system which could upset the world's strategic balance," it said.

On Wednesday, the Russian leader and Kim Jong-Il also signed a memorandum opposing any changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, ITAR-TASS said.

And he packed further ammunition by winning an offer from Pyongyang to abandon missile development in return for rocket technology to help a supposed space program.

Washington, which cites the threat of a ballistic missile attack from states like North Korea as a reason for the NMD, reacted coolly to Putin's announcement.

"I would remind you that the North Koreans demonstrated ballistic missile capability with what they called a space or satellite launch," one US official said.

Pyongyang test-fired a ballistic missile over Japan without warning in August 1998, stunning the region. The Stalinist regime insisted it had merely put into orbit a satellite emitting revolutionary songs.

"I understand that this is a question to be discussed particularly between the United States and Russia," Foreign Minister Yohei Kono told a news conference this week.

"Russian President Putin is expected to discuss with US President Clinton questions related to the NMD," Kono said.

In Miyazaki last week, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov joined other G8 representatives in questioning the fall-out from any deployment of the NMD system.

US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had to fend off concerns that the unproven shield threatened to undermine the ABM treaty.

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

 US Unfazed By Putin Comments On ABM
Thurmont (AFP) July 18, 2000
US officials were unconcerned Tuesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin's warning that his country and China will respond if Washington goes ahead with a proposed national missile shield.

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