|US diplomats in China for ABM consultations(12/17/01)|
A team of US diplomats held talks in Beijing on Monday on US President George W. Bush's decision to abandon the ABM treaty, a US embassy in China spokesman said.
The diplomats, who arrived over the weekend, were "consulting with China as a followup to their president's announcement on ABM treaty withdrawal" and would leave later on Monday, he added.
China has criticised the US decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which it regarded as a cornerstone of global stability.
China has called for multilateral talks to safeguard global peace and stability.
China says US plans to develop multi-billion dollar defence system that would shoot down incoming missiles not only threaten the global balance but could set off a new arms race.
The United States, however, has told China it is developing the missile shield to protect against surprise attacks from "rogue states" , and it is was not being pursued with China in mind.
The US diplomats met officials at China's Foreign Ministry on Monday, the embassy spokesman said.
A US State Department spokesman said last week Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Avis Bohlen would lead the group to China.
Bush called Chinese President Jiang Zemin last Thursday to discuss the decision to withdraw from the treaty.
President Jiang told Bush that China was willing to work with other countries to safeguard world peace and stability in the wake of the decision and advocated talks.