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27 May, 2008 20:57

McCain prepared to talk nukes with Russia

U.S. Republican Presidential candidate John McCain has said he will seek talks with Russia on reducing nuclear weapons if he makes it to the White House. Speaking at the University of Denver, McCain said he would move rapidly to make sure both countries h

In his speech McCain accepted that the U.S. and Russia had their disagreements, but insisted that compromise and co-operation are, nevertheless, possible.

“While we have serious differences, with the end of the Cold War Russia and the United States are no longer mortal enemies. As our two countries possess the overwhelming majority of the world's nuclear weapons, we have a special responsibility to reduce their number. I believe we should reduce our nuclear forces to the lowest level we judge necessary, and we should be prepared to enter into a new arms control agreement with Russia reflecting the nuclear reductions I will seek,” said McCain.

He then went on to refer to the issue of anti-missile defence against terrorism or so-called ‘rogue states’.

“I also believe we should work with Russia to build confidence in our missile defence programme, including through such initiatives as the sharing of early warning data and prior notification of missile launches. I would also redouble our common efforts to reduce the risk that nuclear, chemical or biological weapons may fall into the hands of terrorists or unfriendly governments,” he added.

The U.S. has previously opposed any legally binding limits on nuclear weapons, and McCain has not been known as a particularly active supporter of non-proliferation.

He has been criticised by Democrats for being too close to George W. Bush. Some say it’s not surprising he is now distancing himself from the Bush administration, especially when it comes to foreign policy.

However, McCain was endorsed by George Bush as a Republican candidate and the two agree on many issues, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barrack Obama, the leading Democrat candidate, has previously said he’s willing to negotiate with many foreign leaders, including those of North Korea and Iran, something that McCain has repeatedly criticised, saying that it won’t lead anywhere.

McCain once again confirmed his position, alluding to Obama indirectly.

“Today, some people seem to think they've discovered a brand new cause, something no one before them ever thought of. Many believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programmes of hostile governments is have our president talk with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades,” he said.

“Others think military action alone can achieve our goals, as if military actions were not fraught with their own terrible risks. While the use of force may be necessary, it can only be as a last resort, not a first step,” McCain added.

Not everybody welcomed the speech – McCain was interrupted several times by anti-war protesters.