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Russia: Ivanov Discusses Nuclear Arms Control

Washington, 26 April 2000 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is due to confer in Washington today with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on nuclear arms control, the Chechen conflict, and other issues. Ivanov met with President Bill Clinton at the White House yesterday. In addition to arms control and Chechnya, the two discussed the planned June 4-5 Moscow summit between Clinton and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Ivanov said he presented Clinton a letter from Putin in which the Russian president-elect expressed interest in furthering relations with the U.S.

"It is stressed in the address by President Putin that we have the intention to continue the dialogue on such areas as security, regional conflict, and of course, a dialogue on bilateral issues, primarily economic ones."

Ivanov told our correspondent Russia remains opposed to changing the strategic core of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. But, he said, it may be possible for Moscow to come to an understanding with the U.S. on the non-strategic, tactical aspects of the treaty. The U.S. has proposed amending the treaty to enable it to build a possible national missile defense system.

A new U.S. Congressional report says a proposed limited national missile defense system could cost the United States $60 billion through 2015.

The estimate was released by the Congressional Budget Office, whose job is to provide the Congress with objective analyses.

The report says a system costing that much would, if successfully deployed, guard the entire U.S. against an attack by several tens of ballistic missiles.

The report was questioned by the U.S. Defense Department, which said it covered a system more advanced than U.S. military leaders envision. The Defense Department has its own cost estimate of $30 billion.

Clinton is to decide whether to go forward with a missile defense system following a test this summer.