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Russia ready to discuss CFE Treaty with U.S.
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08:02, July 19, 2007

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Russia is willing to continue to discuss with the United States disputed issues related to the Conventional Arms in Europe Treaty (CFE), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by phone.

"Sergei Lavrov has informed the U.S. Secretary of State of Russia's motives for suspending its participation in the CFE Treaty, and emphasized the (country's) readiness to continue discussing CFE-related issues and other strategic security problems with the United States," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Russia will not comply with any conventional arms limits, the Foreign Ministry said, however, the amount of Russian weapons will depend on the situation in the military and political spheres. The Foreign Ministry added that the moratorium "does not imply that we are shutting the doors to further dialogue."

In the telephone conversation initiated by the United States, the parties also discussed Tuesday several international issues, in particular prospects for holding an international conference on the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear program and Kosovo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in the treaty due to "extraordinary circumstances which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures," said the Kremlin press service on Saturday.

The CFE treaty aims to maintain military balance in Europe by setting limits on key categories of conventional military equipment for NATO countries and those of the rival Warsaw Pact.

It was signed in 1990 and an adapted treaty was agreed upon in 1999. So far only Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have ratified the 1999 treaty. NATO countries have refused to do so, insisting that Russia must first fulfill the so-called "Istanbul obligations" -- withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and Georgia.

Russia had threatened several times to withdraw from the CFE when it was at odds with the United States over U.S. plans to install a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.

Putin threatened to suspend Russia's obligations under the CFE treaty in April. An extraordinary conference on June 12-15 in Vienna failed to produce an agreement on the issue.

Source: Xinhua

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