The nearest round of Russo-US strategic stability consultations, this year's first, will gather in Washington, D.C., January 14 into 18, reports a Russian Defence Ministry spokesman. Georgi Mamedov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, will lead the Russian delegation, on which Colonel-General Yuri Baluyevsky, First Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, will represent the Ministry of Defence. Leading the agenda will be efforts for new instruments to guarantee strategic stability now that the US Administration is determined to leave the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, as President George W. Bush announced, December 13. Debates will also concern the US Administration's decision to stock up a part of nuclear warheads removed from strategic missiles on combat duty. The agenda will include tentative consequences of nuclear tests eventually resumed by the United States, as was recently announced in Washington. The conferees will discuss measures to promote nonproliferation of mass destruction weapons, joint combat against international terrorism, and Russia-NATO contacts. Anti-missile defence in the context of the USA quitting the ABM treaty will be out of the agenda, alongside issues related to establishing thresholds for further drastic cuts on strategic offensive arsenals, said the Defence Ministry officer. To put the latter issue in a nutshell, Russia is insisting on a threshold of 1,500 to 2,000 warheads, while the USA prefers 1,700-2,200. Both options guarantee irreparable damage to either side in case of an armed conflict between them, so particular figures are not essential to Russia and the USA alike, and they do not need to discuss prospects for written and legally binding agreements on the matter, explained our interviewee.
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