WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday the United States hopes to coax Russia into accepting the view that changes in the global security situation require a reexamination of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.
Powell acknowledged in an interview with CNN that the Russians remain unconvinced about the administration's desire to build a national missile defense system to deal with the new realities.
But, he said, the United States is willing to take Russian views into account, noting that a senior U.S. delegation visited Moscow last week and that Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will be here for talks this Friday.
"It's the beginning of a process of consultation," Powell said. He also said Russia itself may benefit from having a missile defense capability.
Responding to suggestions that the United States is pursuing a go-it-alone policy on a missile defense, ignoring the sentiments of allies as well as Russia and China, Powell said, "there is nothing peremptory about this. There is nothing unilateralist about this. There's nothing arrogant about it."
"We have a treaty with Moscow, and they have all the rights embedded in such a treaty to stay with it or abrogate it, and we have the same rights," he said. "And so what we want to do is speak to the Russians about how we can move to a strategic framework, which might be a framework, might be another treaty. We're not sure what it is yet. We're not foreclosing any option."
Powell said the United States and Russia have a shared interest in bringing down the level of offensive arms in the world and in taking action "to protect our populations against weapons of mass destruction that might come from nations that did not mean either of us well."
Last Friday, following talks with the Russians in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko indicated that little progress was made.
"We still have more questions than answers," he said. Powell said he has been in almost daily contact with Ivanov, trying to arrange a meeting between President Bush and President Vladimir Putin on security issues as soon as possible. He said they may meet next month.
On other issues, Powell:
-- Said he was confident that the United States and China will be able to reach an agreement on the return of a U.S. reconnaissance plane that was forced to make an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island six weeks ago.
--Rejected suggestions that there are tensions between himself and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. "We get along just fine," he said.
--Acknowledged that the continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians is complicating the U.S. effort to rebuild the 1991-era coalition in opposition to Iraq.
Iraq's neighbors, he said, "do see a connection between the two."