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U.S., Russia set aside their dispute on missile defenses; Issue is referred to security committee

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MOSCOW -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and top Russian officials papered over their differences on missile defenses and other issues yesterday, clearing the way for renewed pledges of international cooperation.

"I am very satisfied that we are on a good road," Albright told a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov at the end of two days of talks.

While conceding that differences remain, she said that U.S. and Russian officials have demonstrated "our ability to either solve something immediately or set up a procedure that allows our experts to look at the issues and work through the problems."

On an emerging U.S. missile-defense plan that set Russian teeth on edge when it came to light last week, Albright and Ivanov chose the second course, referring the issue to a security committee, headed on the U.S. side by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, that will visit Moscow late next month.

At their news conference, Albright and Ivanov said they had agreed that the United States will not violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

But Albright made it clear that Washington reserves the right to seek amendments to the ABM treaty to permit a nationwide defensive system.

The rough edges of the U.S.-Russia relationship showed clearly in a 25-minute phone call between Albright and Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin, hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer.

It was his first conversation with a U.S. official since President Clinton visited Moscow in September.

According to his spokesman, Yeltsin "expressed concern" about the ABM issue and told Albright that U.S. military action in Iraq or Kosovo without specific authorization by the United Nations Security Council "is not permissible."

Pub Date: 1/27/99

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