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Saturday, June 27, 1998 Published at 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK

China agrees end to nuclear targets

President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin at the news conference in Beijing

The United States President, Bill Clinton, and China's President Jiang Zemin pledged to stop targeting each other's cities with long range nuclear missiles at their summit on Saturday.

A BBC China affairs correspondent says that removing missile targets is only of symbolic importance. The accord has scant military or strategic significance as missile targets can be changed rapidly.

[ image: The US flag is raised over Mao]
The US flag is raised over Mao
However, our correspondent says the agreement represents a new concession by Beijing. The Chinese authorities had been resisting the move unless Washington declared that it would not use nuclear weapons first.

And US officials described the move as a valuable confidence-building measure, which reduces the risk of a nuclear war between the two countries starting by accident.

The two leaders reached several other arms control agreements, with China agreeing to expand controls on chemicals that could be used to make weapons.

China also agreed to pursue a ban on exporting anti-personnel land mines.

But US officials said President Clinton failed to persuade China to formally join a missile-related regime the United States sought as a major goal, although Beijing promised to study the matter.

In their joint statement, the presidents talked of being partners, not adversaries, and said they had reached a broad range of agreements on political and economic issues.

Mr Clinton also expressed respect for China's economic reforms which he said had improved conditions for its people, but he stressed the importance that Americans placed on human rights.

President Jiang, responding to a request from Mr Clinton, said he would be prepared to consider resuming talks with the Dalai Lama, but only so long as the Tibetan spiritual leader acknowledged both Tibet and Taiwan were part of China.

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