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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bolton Says NMD Still Needed

ReutersBolton, left, walking with Ambassador Alexander Vershbow in Moscow on Monday.
U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said Monday that last week's terrorist attacks underscored the need to press on with the administration's missile defense plan.

Bolton told reporters that talks with senior Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, had involved no operational issues, such as the use of bases in Russia or other former Soviet republics to launch retaliatory strikes.

Bolton, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, said the attacks would have had far worse consequences had the perpetrators had access to ballistic missiles or weapons of mass destruction.

"These horrible events demonstrated the validity of our concern, that there were people in the world who didn't adhere to classic notions of deterrence and whose value systems and respect for human life didn't match Western standards," he said.

"While missile defense would not have prevented this abomination, it does show that the United States faces severe threats from terrorism and from rogue states, and that among the things we have to continue to work on is missile defense," he said.

The meeting was the latest encounter to discuss the U.S. plan to build an anti-missile shield, under which Washington intends to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty over Russian objections. Negotiators are also discussing proposals to cut U.S. and Russian arsenals of strategic weapons.

Russia opposes the missile defense proposal and discounts as exaggerated the threat Washington says is posed by so-called rogue states including Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

After the talks, Ivanov appeared to issue fresh criticism of the U.S. proposal, decrying "futile attempts to uphold security in conditions of globalization using unilateral measures at the expense of other states or group of states.

"There is a single way -- seeking answers to threats and challenges on a multilateral basis," he told diplomacy students.

Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov said that Monday's talks represented "Moscow's concrete assistance, including military, to Washington."

Mamedov declared it was necessary to cooperate in combating terrorism and one way to do this was "to strengthen the world order -- a way of battling those who have put themselves outside the law," Itar-Tass reported.

The talks, originally set for London last week and postponed after the attacks, took place two days before Ivanov was due to meet U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington. Another meeting on anti-terror cooperation is set for the same day in Moscow with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Bolton said the Washington talks would help prepare two meetings between Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin -- in Shanghai next month at a summit of Asian states and at Bush's Texas ranch in November.

Russia said after last week's attacks that it backed a U.S. drive to fight terror groups. But its possible participation in an anti-terror alliance being assembled by Washington, and possible U.S. strikes against Afghanistan, remains unclear.

Bush and other U.S. officials view Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, who is in exile in Afghanistan, as the prime suspect in the attacks.

Senior Russian officials have ruled out the deployment of NATO forces in Central Asia.

Tajikistan said it had given no such consent and a spokesman in Uzbekistan said it was too early to make such a decision.

Bolton also said it was too early to discuss such issues.

"I think all those questions are premature. They've not been asked and it's not really appropriate at this point," he said.

"What we're doing in the United States is considering the options that are available," he said. "I think there will be extensive consultations to follow on operational questions. But those are not things we talked about today."

(Reuters, AP)