Clinton, Putin Seek Common Ground

Sunday, June 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOSCOW (AP) — President Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin conceded remaining differences on a missile defense programs on Sunday after two days of summit talks but pledged to work to bridge them.

The two leaders issued a joint ``statement of principles'' that Clinton described as ``an attempt to bring our positions closer together.''

Both leaders, after their first meeting since Putin was sworn in last month, characterized their two days of talks as a search for common ground.

Clinton said that, while they couldn't agree on everything, they at least spelled out their differences clearly. ``And I for one appreciate that.''

Clinton said the joint statement ``makes clear that there is an emerging ballistic missile threat which must be addressed, but we have not agreed on how best to do so.

``We have acknowledged that the ABM treaty foresees the possibility of changes in the strategic environment that might require it to be updated.''

He said U.S. and Russian experts would work to try to narrow their difference on missile defense in the coming days.

Putin also acknowledged that new global threats exist but said ``there are a lot of problems'' with changing the ABM treaty. ``We are against having a cure that is worse than the disease'' of terrorism.

The two leaders did announce two arms related agreements — one calling for each side to dispose of 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium and the other to set up a joint center for monitoring missile launches.

These are ``major steps to reduce the nuclear danger,'' Clinton said.