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The BBC's Steve Rosenberg
"Both sides regard this as a very important treaty"
 real 56k

Monday, 16 July, 2001, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Russia and China unite against tests
Vladimir Putin and Jiang Zemin
The leaders may release a joint statement on the US test
The presidents of Russia and China are to sign a friendship treaty in Moscow on Monday which aims to defend their mutual interests and boost trade.

It is not favourable to global strategic balance and stability

China Foreign Ministry spokesman
The leaders are meeting amid condemnation from both countries of the latest US missile defence technology test at the weekend.

Presidents Jiang Zemin and Vladimir Putin are also expected to release a joint statement later on Monday, expressing their support for the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty which would be scrapped by the US missile defence plans.

China and Russia say they are not planning any kind of military or political bloc and that their friendship treaty, intended to replace a 1949 Communist-era pact, does not threaten anyone.

They reject suggestions that they are forming an anti-American alliance.

The BBC's Adam Brooks in Beijing says it is difficult to pinpoint the importance of the treaty when each country's economic interests clearly lie elsewhere.

'Dangerous step'

Russia and China are united by their opposition to US defence strategy.

"It is not favourable to global strategic balance and stability," a foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said following the weekend tests.

"We urge the US side to fully consider the opinions and concerns of other countries and adopt prudent measures on this issue," he said.

China is vehemently opposed to the US plans for a missile defence system because of the threat it will pose to its own tiny second-strike capability.
Minuteman II missile
The US has promised to press forward with more tests

And Russia has released a statement saying that the test threatens the international structure of nuclear disarmament.

"A logical question again arises - why take matters to the point of placing under threat the entire internationally agreed structure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including its core, the 1972 ABM treaty?" Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said in a statement.

Pentagon officials promised to press forward with plans for more tests of the system after an interceptor missile hit a dummy warhead over the Pacific Ocean on Saturday.

Sceptical view

BBC Moscow correspondent Stephen Dalziel says the Chinese and Russian leaders may well agree a joint statement on their objections to the project.

We will be signing such a document for the first time, dealing with all sectors of co-operation and setting down both sides' desire to maintain good ties over generations

Alexander Losyukov
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister

Both countries are sceptical about the threat posed by countries like North Korea and Iraq, he says, and hawks in both countries suggest that the system could be employed as part of an attack on them.

Russian officials have said President Putin will discuss with US missile defence plans with Mr Jiang before taking them up with US President George W Bush at the forthcoming G8 summit in Genoa.

On the bilateral side, the new pact is expected to make relations between Russia and China more stable.

Potential adversaries

"We will be signing such a document for the first time, dealing with all sectors of co-operation and setting down both sides' desire to maintain good ties over generations," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said ahead of the visit.

The aim is to boost bilateral trade, which is expected to rise this year to $10bn from last year's $8bn - still far short of Beijing's annual trade with Japan or the United States.

Some analysts say the treaty was pushed by both sides as a defensive measure as it bonds two countries that in many respects are potential adversaries.

Russia fears the weight of China's population bearing down on its far east, while China sees a revitalised Russia as a possible rival for influence in Asia.

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See also:

14 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Russia and China's uneasy partnership
15 Jul 01 | Americas
Russia condemns US missile test
15 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Shanghai summit backs ABM Treaty
14 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China warns against US missile defence
15 Jan 01 | Europe
Old enemies now forever friends?
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