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Nuclear powers unite against NMD

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia and China are united in their opposition to U.S. plans to build an anti-missile defence system, the Russian foreign ministry has said.

Tuesday's statement came in the wake of a Chinese delegation visit to Moscow where President George W. Bush's proposed $60 billion National Missile Defense (NMD)programme was high on the agenda.

Delegations from both sides discussed Washington's plan to develop a system, which amounts to a scrapping of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile System.

The diplomats "carried out a deep exchange of opinions on a wide range of disarmament problems, paying special attention to the situation around the ABM agreement," the foreign ministry statement said.

"Russia and China again confirmed their opposition to plans to develop a system of 'global missile defence,' banned under the 1972 treaty, and don't consider the arguments of supporters of such systems to be convincing," it said.

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Washington insists the defence system would be aimed at smaller arsenals of so-called rogue states, named as North Korea or Iraq but Russia and China fear losing the deterrent power of their nuclear forces.

China is also worried that Washington might extend protection from such a system to rival Taiwan, reducing Beijing's ability to use its growing missile forces to intimidate the island it regards as a renegade province.

Meanwhile, Bush says he intends to look Russian President Vladimir Putin "in the eye" to say he does not view Russia as an enemy, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.

Bush will also make clear that U.S. plans for a missile defence system are in both countries' interests.

"Russia is not an enemy," the official told Reuters.

He said Bush hopes to use the first summit of the two leaders, scheduled for June 16 in Slovenia, to convince Putin of his sincerity.

"If there's a suspicion, that (Bush is) trying to diminish Russia, then it's going to be hard to have a good conversation. Step one is to look him in the eye," the official said.

The summit follows top-level talks in Moscow earlier this month between Russian and U.S. officials.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said talks with U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz had been substantive but left "more questions than answers" over the missile defence plans.

• National Missile Defense
• Russian Government
• Chinese Government
• U.S. Dept of Defence

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