Washington, 22 January 1999 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says security issues, primarily arms control, will be at the top of the agenda during her upcoming trip to Russia.
Albright made the statement Thursday during a speech at the Center for National Policy in Washington. She is expected to be in Moscow on Monday.
Albright said that discussions will focus on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) agreement, and how it will be affected by the expansion of NATO. She also said she will be briefed about the status of the START II treaty which is currently under debate in the Russian Duma.
Albright said she will urge the Duma to ratify the START II treaty and clear the way for talks aimed at deep reductions in both Russia's and the U.S.'s nuclear arsenals.
Albright said she will also discuss steps to prevent the "destablizing transfer" of arms and sensitive missile and nuclear technologies. But she added that this problem is not isolated only to Russia, but nations worldwide.
She explained: "We provide material or technical assistance to more than two dozen countries to enhance the effectiveness of their export controls. We also share information. These efforts, although rarely publicized, have prevented numerous transactions that would have threatened our allies or friends or ourselves."
Albright said that while working with Russia to halt proliferation, the U.S. will also strive to ensure that America's own technology is not compromised. She said that U.S. export control requirements are the world's "most stringent," and that the Departments of State and Defense will seek to ensure that export controls remain closely tied to U.S. foreign policy and national security interests.
Albright said that as a result of "increased threats of missile proliferation," the U.S. is now studying the development of a national missile defense. She said she will discuss with her Russian counterparts how such a defense system might affect the Anti-Ballistic-Missile (ABM) treaty.
She explained: "We have believed and continue to believe, that the ABM treaty is central to our national interest and to our arms control. The ABM Treaty has been amended before, and I think it will be essential to look at how it will be affected. It has been possible before to abrogate the ABM Treaty if there is supreme national interest."
But Albright said she will assure the Russians that the U.S. is simply studying a national missile defense and had not found any reason to amend or invalidate the treaty.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen made the announcement Wednesday that the U.S. was taking steps to deploy a missile defense network designed to protect Americans at home and troops stationed abroad from the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
Cohen told a news conference in Washington the system was not intended to counter the Russian nuclear arsenal, but was aimed to address threats that come primarily from rouge states such as North Korea.
Albright said regional conflicts would also be the focus of several discussions in Russia, particularly the recent U.S. bombings in Iraq, and the current crisis in Kosovo.