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NATO regrets Russian withdrawal from CFE treaty 2007-07-16 23:49:06
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    BRUSSELS, July 16 (Xinhua) -- NATO on Monday expressed disappointment at Russia's decision to suspend participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and hoped to engage Moscow in constructive talks on this issue.

    "The announcement by the Russian Federation ... is deeply disappointing. The (NATO) allies are very concerned by this unilateral decision," said the alliance in a written statement.

    NATO spokesman James Appathurai expressed the alliance's disappointment immediately after the Russian announcement on Saturday. He told Brussels-based reporters that the move was a step backward.

    In Monday's formal statement, NATO offered to convene another extraordinary conference involving all 30 signatories of the CFE treaty.

    "We hope that the Russian Federation will join us in constructive and creative dialogue to ensure the continued operation and viability of the landmark CFE Treaty including its flank regime, and not undermine prospects for entry into force of the adapted CFE Treaty."

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in the treaty due to "extraordinary circumstances which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures," said the Kremlin press service on Saturday.

    During the CFE treaty suspension, Russia will not be bound by any conventional weapons limits. Information provision and inspections will be suspended, the Russia Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the Kremlin announcement.

    Real Russian weaponry numbers will depend on military and political needs, including readiness of other treaty member countries to show adequate restraint, the Foreign Ministry statement said.

    However, the Russian moratorium does not mean that the door is closed to further dialogue. In the event of the raised questions being settled, it will be possible to promptly ensure collective observance of the treaty provisions, the statement said.

    NATO expressed the hope that exchange of information and inspections can go on.

    "We underline that the process of exchanging information on military forces and conducting on-site inspections goes to the core of the treaty's role in providing transparency regarding the forces of States Parties," NATO's written statement said.

    "We expect that all the States Parties will continue to implement fully all their obligations under the CFE Treaty and associated documents. NATO Allies are fully committed to do so," the statement said.

    The CFE treaty aims to maintain military balance in Europe by setting limits on key categories of conventional military equipment for NATO countries and those of the rival Warsaw Pact.

    It was signed in 1990 and an adapted treaty was agreed upon in 1999. So far only Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have ratified the 1999 treaty. NATO countries have refused to do so, insisting that Russia must first fulfill the so-called "Istanbul obligations" -- withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and Georgia.

    Russia had threatened several times to withdraw from the CFE when it was at odds with the United States over U.S. plans to install a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.

    Putin threatened to suspend Russia's obligations under the CFE treaty in April. An extraordinary conference on June 12-15 in Vienna failed to produce an agreement on the issue.

    NATO said it remains committed to the CFE Treaty and wishes to achieve the earliest possible entry into force.

    "NATO allies place the highest value on the CFE regime," said the statement.

Editor: Luan Shanglin
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