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Moscow Sets Up Missile Panel

May 10, 2001

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia’s government said Thursday that it had formed a special panel to form Moscow’s response to U.S. plans for a limited missile defense system.

``The missile defense problem is extremely complicated and it demands detailed discussion,″ Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told RTR state television. ``That is why on our side, an interagency delegation has been formed from leading specialists in the field.″

The Russian panel will be headed by Yuri Kapralov, director of the Foreign Ministry’s department of security affairs and disarmament.

Yakovenko spoke on the day when a high-level U.S. delegation, led by U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, was due to arrive in Moscow to discuss the U.S. administration’s plans to scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and build a missile shield.

``The American representatives will be presented with our concrete approaches aimed at strengthening strategic stability and they will also be given questions on their ‘counter-ideas’ to these,″ Yakovenko said.

Moscow wants the ABM treaty to be preserved as a barrier to bigger offensive arsenals. The treaty bans testing of anti-missile rockets, limits radar capabilities and prohibits the signatories from involving allies in deploying anti-missile rockets.

But Russia reacted with surprising calm to President Bush’s announcement last week that the United States wanted to go ahead with its missile shield plans, pinning hopes on Bush’s pledge to consult with other nations.

U.S. envoys have fanned out across the world to start those consultations.

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