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The BBC's David Chazan reports
"Many other American nuclear treaty partners remain unconvinced"
 real 56k

Russian President Vladimir Putin
says US moves to meet external threats must not be allowed to destabilise global security
 real 28k

Prof John Steinbruner, Secuirty analyst
"Nobody believes the Bush administration's 'rogue state' theory"
 real 56k

The BBC's Claire Bolderson
speaks to Dimitri Trenin, Carneigie Foundation in Moscow and Dr Michael Clarke, defence analyst
 real 28k

Saturday, 12 May, 2001, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Australia backs 'Son of Star Wars'
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
Downer: The US plan 'threatens no-one'.

By Red Harrison in Sydney

Australia has confirmed it will allow the United States to use a military base in northern Australia as a link in the controversial anti-missile defence shield proposed by President Bush.

Senior American officials, led by James Kelly, the Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, have spent the past two days in Australia seeking support for Mr Bush's plan.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says he has no doubts the United States will proceed with its anti-missile defence plan, despite the misgivings of Germany, Russia, China and France.

Mr Downer emerged from his talks with Mr Kelly to say the more people understood that the missile shield system was a defensive scheme and threatened no one, the more they would realise it made sense.

China ties important

Mr Downer said the satellite relay station at Pine Gap in northern Australia could already relay information about missile launches and the government would certainly not cut off that information from the American defence system.

Missile defence
Missile defence is needed as protection, says the US
Pine Gap is operated jointly by the United States and Australia.

Mr Downer said he made clear to the American diplomats that Australia's relations with China were strong and important.

He said he did not want to see them affected by the missile defence shield.

Mr Downer said the Americans assured him the new system was not aimed at China.

This was an issue, Mr Downer said, about how to deal with the proliferation of missiles to states of concern.

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See also:

07 May 01 | Americas
US bullish on 'Star Wars'
20 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
'Star Wars' makes a comeback
10 May 01 | South Asia
US missile shield talks in India
09 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
South Korea hears case for missile shield
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