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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
New opposition to US missile plans
Yeltsin and Zemin
Strategic Partnership: Confirmed by Presidents Yeltsin and Zemin in 1999
Russia and China have won the support of three Central Asian states for their attempt to prevent the US developing missile defences that would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty.



I really want to stress that China to us is indeed a strategic partner in every meaning of these words

Vladimir Putin
The Shanghai Five, which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, issued a declaration after a summit meeting in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, describing the treaty as a "cornerstone of world strategic stability".

The United States is due to carry out a crucial test of an interceptor missile on 7 July, and President Clinton has said he will decide whether to go ahead with the plans for National Missile Defence (NMD) before the end of the year.

Russia and China, which believe NMD would undermine their nuclear deterrents, have been the most vocal critics of the scheme.

Strategic Partnership

At a meeting on the sidelines of the summit, President Vladimir Putin and President Jiang Zemin "spoke about the fundamental importance of maintaining the strength of the 1972 ABM treaty", according to Kremlin aide.


Putin and Clinton
Putin made clear his concern to Bill Clinton in Moscow
Mr Putin said NMD would "upset the global balance", another aide said.

Russia and China have declared a "strategic partnership" which stands to become a focus of opposition to US global dominance if NMD goes ahead.

Mr Putin is due to make an official visit to Beijing on 17-18 July, which the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov has said would add new content to the relationship.

"It is not mere lip service, not a formal courtesy phrase, I really want to stress that China to us is indeed a strategic partner in every meaning of these words," Mr Putin said, adding that the focus would be on economic and military issues.

Extremism

Boris Yeltsin's last foreign visit as Russian president was to China, where he signed a joint statement with Jiang Zemin condemning Nato imperialism.


helicopter and soldier
Central Asia has been destabilised by religious extremism
The Shanghai Five said they opposed the use of force or threat of force in international relations without the sanction of the UN Security Council.

Their declaration called for the strengthening of the UN "as the main mechanism in maintaining international peace and stability".

The five countries also vowed co-operation to combat terrorism, separatism and religious extremism.

European overtures

China has said that if Washington goes ahead with NMD, it will be forced to expand its small arsenal of ballistic nuclear missiles.

Mr Putin has warned that Russia will tear up all existing arms control agreements if the ABM treaty is violated.

There was much speculation that Mr Putin's first foreign visit after his election would be to China, but in the event he travelled to the UK.

On a later trip to Italy he unveiled plans for a joint tactical missile defence system to counter the risk posed by "rogue" states such as North Korea, but this was dismissed by the US as impractical.

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See also:

24 Aug 99 | Asia-Pacific
Hostage crisis overshadows summit
05 Jun 00 | Europe
Why Russia fears US 'Star Wars'
17 Aug 99 | Americas
How will US missile defence work?
30 Mar 00 | Americas
Q & A: Son of Star Wars
19 Jan 00 | Americas
Analysis: Tough missile choice
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