According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, on Saturday Colonel-General Yury Baluyevsky, first deputy Russian General Staff Chief, announced that development of an agreement on further reduction of strategic offensive armaments would be the key issue to be discussed during the Russian-American consultations in Washington. On Monday Baluyevsky will fly to the USA with a group of Russian military experts. According to Baluyevsky, "such an agreement will have to be prepared by next summer through a series of bilateral consultations at various levels." The General indicated that "the parameters of strategic offensive arms and a mechanism for controlling the arms reduction process should become the major elements of this legally binding small-size document." He stressed that "we would be satisfied with any figure within the limits of 1,500-2,200 warheads on strategic missiles as was declared by Russian and American Presidents." Yury Baluyevsky reported that during their Washington consultations the parties would also consider some anti-missile defense problems. The military commander stressed that "so far the United States had only declared their decision to withdraw from the 1972 START Treaty. Our position in this matter was clearly cut: we were still regarding that decision of Washington as a mistake. Russia's reaction to this step will follow in 6-month time when the USA actually withdraws from the START treaty." At the same time he indicated that he was not talking about asymmetrical reciprocal measures on the part of Moscow.
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