Germans Urge U.S., Russia Talks

Tuesday, February 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOSCOW (AP) — Germany's foreign minister on Tuesday urged Russia and the United States to settle their differences over U.S. plans to build a national missile defense system.

Moscow has vehemently opposed the U.S. plan for the missile defense. The system would go against the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the Kremlin describes as a cornerstone of world stability.

But while German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has predicted that Russia will eventually reconcile itself to the missile defense system, he urged the United States not to antagonize Moscow by pushing ahead with the project without consultations.

``It is our substantial interest that two major nuclear powers discuss all the issues related to possible NMD implementation ... in a climate of cooperation, not confrontation,'' Fischer told Associated Press Television News

Washington has tried to assure Moscow that the missile shield would not be able to guard against Russia's huge nuclear arsenal, being designed only to protect against possible smaller-scale attacks by so-called rogue nations. Russia has rejected the argument.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is trying to arrange a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to discuss Moscow's concerns, the State Department said Monday.

Fischer met Tuesday with Sergei Ivanov, the secretary of President Vladimir Putin's powerful security council. He was to be received by President Vladimir Putin later Tuesday.

Ivanov said he and Fischer had focused on questions of European security. Fischer tried to allay Russian concerns that NATO's eastward expansion could pose a threat to Moscow, while Ivanov encouraged development of alternative security institutions to NATO, which Moscow considers U.S.-dominated.

``There are three main forces on the continent now: NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the European Union. If we find a true balance of interaction in this triangle, European security will be considerably strengthened,'' Ivanov said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Russian-German relations have flourished over the past year, due in part to Putin's friendship with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and to Putin's fluent German, which he perfected during his years as a KGB agent in East Germany.

Schroeder will visit St. Petersburg for a meeting with Putin on April 11, Fischer said Tuesday.