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The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
14 December 2001
Secret US deal with Putin over ABM treaty
By Toby Harnden in Washington

GENERAL Colin Powell has said that yesterday's American withdrawal from the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty was "orchestrated" with Russia in an act of co-operation that would previously have been unthinkable.

In his first interview with a British newspaper since becoming secretary of state, he said that President Bush had discussed his decision with President Putin beforehand.

He said: "For those who have predicted catastrophe, they are going to find out that an arms race does not break out between the US and Russia. In fact, at the same time Russia heard our notice of withdrawal they agreed to cut their weapons to our level."

The Bush administration believes that a missile defence system will defend both America and Russia against the threat of nuclear attack from "rogue" states.

Gen Powell said that he and Mr Bush had spent the first months of the new administration building a fresh relationship with Russia.

President Putin had agreed that the US abrogation of the treaty, effective in six months' time, would not damage Russia's security.

Last night Mr Putin said on Russian television that America's move was mistaken but not unexpected and signalled that he wanted to keep Moscow's warming relations with Washington on track.

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