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US 'deeply regrets' Russia's 'wrong' decision on CFE

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Dec 12, 2007
The United States said Wednesday it "deeply regrets" that Russia has suspended a key Soviet-era arms pact and urges Moscow to reverse course.

The United States "deeply regrets the Russian Federation's decision to 'suspend' implementation of its obligations under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"Russia's conventional forces are the largest on the European continent, and its unilateral action damages this successful arms control regime," McCormack said in a written statement.

Russia's foreign ministry announced that participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty was suspended from midnight in Moscow (2100 GMT Tuesday).

Signed in 1990 and modified in 1999, the CFE places precise limits on the stationing of troops and heavy weapons from the Atlantic coast to Russia's Ural mountains -- a mammoth agreement that helped resolve the Cold War standoff.

"This 'suspension,' which is not provided for under the terms of the CFE Treaty, is the wrong decision," according to McCormack's statement.

Officials in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), where the United States is the leading member, have said the CFE treaty has no mechanism for suspension, only a method for parties to withdraw from the pact altogether.

"The CFE Treaty has demonstrated its importance through unprecedented reductions in levels of military hardware in Europe and a transformation of the political context of our security dialogue from suspicion to mutual confidence," McCormack said.

The move "is particularly disappointing" because the United States and its NATO allies have for months engaged in "intensive" talks with Russia to balance its concerns against those of the other parties, he added.

"We have offered constructive, generous proposals for parallel actions on ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty and fulfillment of remaining commitments that were made at the OSCE's Istanbul Summit in 1999," he said.

Russia attributes its freeze to the failure of 26 NATO members to ratify a revised 1999 version of the treaty.

Moscow has also been riled by US plans to deploy an anti-missile shield in two former Soviet satellite states.

NATO countries have said they will only ratify the CFE treaty once Moscow lives up to a pledge made in 1999 to pull its troops out of former Soviet republics Georgia and Moldova.

"Together with our NATO Allies and Treaty partners, we will carefully monitor Russia's actions with regard to its CFE Treaty obligations," McCormack said.

"We encourage Russia to reverse its decision and to work with us to resolve all outstanding concerns of all states parties," which includes the 26 NATO members, he added.

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