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Russia would regret US withdrawal

BRASILIA - Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said on Wednesday his country would "very much regret" if the United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. The White House told congressional leaders the United States plans to withdraw from the pact viewed by Russia, European allies and Democrats as a cornerstone of international arms control, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said. Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, said congressional leaders were informed of the decision at a meeting with President George W. Bush and other White House officials. A formal announcement could come as early as Thursday, a U.S. official said. Kasyanov, who was visiting Brazil, said his government's position on a possible U.S. withdrawal from the treaty is well known. "We would very much regret if they left the treaty," Kasyanov told journalists in Brasilia. "What worries us is strategic stability." The Bush administration has said the time is near to move beyond the ABM treaty, which bars the kind of multibillion-dollar national missile defense system it wants to develop to protect the country and its allies from states such as North Korea and Iraq. In Moscow on Wednesday the Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official as saying Moscow was aware of the U.S. intention and that it was "not dramatizing this situation and will keep an attentive eye on the development of events." A formal U.S. move to withdraw requires six months' notice, so any announcement would signal the start of this period. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Russia and the United States "still have disagreements" on ABM after talks in Moscow this week. -Reuters
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