On 14th November 2000, Yuri Kapralov, Director of the Foreign Ministry Department for Security and Disarmament, spoke to journalist at the Ministry on the new initiatives of President Putin. Excepts from his remarks follow.

"The statement of the Russian President sends a signal both to the present and the future leadership of the United States, to the new administration whoever will come to power in the US. It is also a signal to the rest of the world community indicating that Russia is prepared to move consistently and resolutely towards reduction of nuclear weapons."

"We call for movement along that path without delay, and this is what we would like to emphasize. We believe the dialogue should not be interrupted on these issues which are vital for international security and strategic stability..."

"I want to stress that the position set forth in the statement of President Putin is aimed at cooperation. It is by no means confrontational in character. It takes into account what has been achieved in the field of arms control and disarmament, including strategic weapons. We are encouraged by the reaction from the United States, the first reaction that reached, us to these proposals. As you know, a State Department spokesman said that the United States shares Russia's interest in further reducing strategic nuclear weapons and intends to pursue the process while addressing the problems of new missile threats."

"This initiative... is a signal and a position that will enable the new U.S. leadership, without any delay and given the political will, to move together with us towards still more radical cuts of strategic offensive weapons."

"We call for radical cuts. This goal must be achieved in conditions of preserving and strengthening the 1972 ABM Treaty. This is our position. It's quite clear and definite."

"Our position on the ABM Treaty is a clear one. It is a well- considered one. Both technically and politically we cannot take any other stand. But I would like to draw your attention also to the following. When we oppose proposals to dismantle the treaty we at the same time offer a constructive alternative. And this constructive alternative can be traced in all our statements, in all the actions of the Russian side in the past years."

"What do we have in mind? The United States, in any case, when coming out for the design and deployment of a national ABM system, points to a threat posed by some countries which are now called countries that cause concern. We convincingly demonstrate that at present there is no such a threat and that in the near future there will be no such a threat. As to a more distant future, we offer a broad program of cooperation designed to remove the concerns that the United States names as the reasons or pretexts for the development of its national ABM system."

"In particular, we are making the emphasis on diplomatic and political methods. The main cause named by the United States in support of the deployment of its national ABM system was the missile programs in North Korea, in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As you know, in the course of his visit to the DPRK, in the course of his talks with the North Korean leadership President Putin received assurances and promises that this problem could be solved on certain conditions."

"Our example was followed by the Americans, something that really gratifies us. Contacts were established, Secretary of State Albright who received even more far-reaching assurances that the DPRK was ready to stop its missile programs. She was told that the DPRK did not intend to threaten the United States of America. As you see, this work on the political level that we are urging is effective. As I said, this gives us reason to be pleased."

"From the outset our experts said that we would not respond in kind to the deployment of a national missile defense in the United States. It would be stupid on our part. There are many more other means for neutralizing a national missile defense system and for penetrating it..... And the constructive part of our position consists in this, that we are offering cooperation on missile defense, but not strategic missile defense.... If anyone feels a threat from ballistic missiles, non-strategic missiles,...we are prepared to cooperate in developing theater missile defense systems...."

"The goals of our society and government are to improve the well-being and the living standards of the people, to reorganize our economy and to implement political reform. So, we would not like to be distracted. If you look at all the initiatives that are coming from our leadership, they are very consistent. We are against the strategic arms race, we are in favor of reductions of strategic weapons."

Excerpts were taken from a transcript issued by the Federal News Service, Inc. 14 November 2000.