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Powell in Berlin after Moscow talks

Putin, right
Putin and Powell at a joint press conference in the Kremlin  


BERLIN, Germany -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is continuing his tour of European leaders supporting the coalition against terrorism.

Powell arrived in Germany on Monday to meet Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder after earlier leaving Moscow following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Schroeder has repeatedly expressed "unlimited solidarity" with Washington since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, though not without some domestic opposition to the policy.

He narrowly won a confidence vote last month after pacifists in his ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Greens threatened to veto a decision to deploy German troops.

Powell, who will also visit Paris and London, said at the weekend that Britain or Germany could lead a planned multinational peacekeeping force to Afghanistan.

Earlier, during what was his first visit to the former Soviet Union since taking over U.S. foreign affairs, Powell had hoped to persuade Putin to accept Washington's missile defence plans.

Moscow has said a move towards a missile defence strategy would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

But CNN's Jill Dougherty said the situation "looked pretty much the same" following the talks.

Talks between the two countries have stalled during the past year over the United States' plan to move ahead on tests of its proposed missile defence system which go against Russia's wishes.

U.S. President George W. Bush has said the United States will exercise its right to withdraw from the ABM treaty -- negotiated with the former Soviet Union -- after six months notice, if nothing can be worked out with the Russians.

The Bush administration had hoped the treaty could be modified in time to allow it to begin constructing silos and a testing command centre in Alaska next spring.

Powell had also hoped to be given a specific figure for the number of nuclear warheads Russia is intending to scrap as part of ongoing arms reductions that are running in tandem with discussions on the ABM.

The two countries announced on Wednesday that they had slashed their stockpile to levels set by the START-1 treaty, signed by Washington and Moscow in 1991, to 5,518, well below the ceiling of 6,000 established by the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.

Powell had begun the day with a meeting with members of the Russian Parliament, discussing the overall U.S. Russian relationship.

Russian members of parliament want the United States to revoke the Jackson/Vanik amendment, which discriminates against Russian goods, claiming it is outdated.

Powell also discussed with Putin post-Taliban plans -- whether the U.S. would look to broaden its campaign against terror to countries other than Afghanistan.

NATO was also predicted to have been discussed as well as Russia's controversial leaks of technology and experience on weapons of mass destruction to Iran.

Powell, who is on an eight-day visit to Europe and central Asia, had earlier raised fresh questions about the ability of Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat to control Palestinian militant groups in the Mideast.



 
 
 
 


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