• Kyodo

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The Group of Eight foreign ministers will incorporate in their joint statement to be issued here later this week the need for Russia and the United States to quickly enforce the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) II and conclude START III, a G8 official said Tuesday.

But the eight nations have decided against including a Russian-proposed expression of concern over the U.S. plan to build a national missile defense system, the official said.

The G8 ministers are to issue the joint statement at the end of their two-day meeting, which starts here today.

The official said the Russian side, which has criticized the NMD as “aggravating the arms race,” called for the inclusion of an expression of concern in the statement during the preparatory process for the Miyazaki meeting, but the other G8 nations opposed.

Nevertheless, the G8 statement will declare the importance of seeking progress on the START talks, effectively leading Moscow and Washington to pledge to the international community that they will proceed with their negotiations.

START II, concluded between Russia and the U.S. in 1993, has yet to go into force as the countries have been locked in a dispute over U.S. plans to deploy an antimissile shield to defend the U.S. from missile attacks from countries that include North Korea and Iraq.

Washington wants a revision to the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems in order to accommodate its antimissile plans. Russia has balked at the U.S. proposal.

The START II treaty commits the U.S. and Russia to reduce nuclear warheads to between 3,000 and 3,500.

The U.S. ratified it in 1996, and Russia did so in April.

START III aims to reduce stockpiles to between 2,000 and 2,500 warheads.

Apart from the nuclear arms issue, the G8 foreign ministers meeting is also expected to address conflict prevention, disarmament and nonproliferation, U.N. reforms, international organized crime, terrorism, the environment and regional security issues.