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Year 2001 No. 219, December 24, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Tenth Anniversary of Election of Kim Jong Il as Supreme Leader of Korean People's Army

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Tenth Anniversary of Election of Kim Jong Il as Supreme Leader of Korean People's Army

Foreign Office Meets with DPRK Delegation in London

Sweeping Anti-Chongryun Campaign in Japan; Ethnic Banks’ Bankruptcy Develops to Political Repression

Train Workers in 24-hour Strike

US Scraps ABM Treaty – And Post-Sept. 11 Co-operative Spirit As Well?

For Your Reference:
Argentina Suspends Debt Payments

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Tenth Anniversary of Election of Kim Jong Il as Supreme Leader of Korean People's Army

Today, December 24, is the tenth anniversary of the election of Kim Jong Il as supreme leader of the Korean People's Army in 1991. Workers' Weekly of December 15 (Vol.31, No.40) carried two articles to mark the occasion.

The first is a view of the army-first policy of the DPRK and Kim Jong Il by RCPB(ML)'s National Spokesperson, Chris Coleman. In it, he writes that at this time of imminent danger for not only the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea but for the entire world, it is the duty of communist and workers' organisations, as well as of progressive people the world over, to declare support for the "army-first" policy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, formulated under the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Il, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission.

Chris Coleman points out that with rapidly deepening crisis facing the world capitalist system, the tragic and indefensible events of September 11 have been used by the Anglo-American imperialists in particular, without any justification in international law or norms of behaviour, as a cover to step up their brutal quest for world domination. Inevitably in its drive to world domination, US imperialism has targeted the DPRK, a long-term thorn in the flesh of its plans, labelling it once again as a "rogue state", writes Chris Coleman.

It is in such circumstances that the correctness of the "army-first" policy pursued by the DPRK under the respected leadership of Kim Jong Il stands out in bold relief as absolutely necessary for the building of the DPRK as an impregnable fortress.

The DPRK thus stands as an inspiration and example to the nations and peoples of the world fighting for their national and social rights, their sovereignty and their independence, their equality and freedom. It points also to the future for all the peoples – that socialism is the only future of humankind – Chris Coleman emphasises, saying that the Korean people have at this time and under these circumstances the unconditional and heartfelt support of RCPB(ML) and its activists.

In a commentary on the stand of the DPRK in implementing its military policy and defending socialism, Workers' Weekly points out that in the context of the deepening trends in world affairs – the darkest reaction all along the line from Anglo-American imperialism and the world's big powers, together with the struggles of the international proletariat and the world's insurgent peoples to seize the initiative and put in place new arrangements – the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is playing an indispensable role. It is a state which is being made the target of imperialist predation and labelled as a "rogue state" and unjustifiably accused as a sponsor of terrorism.

But, the commentary says, it is taking the proper military, political and ideological steps in its defence, realising that more is at stake than simply the defence of dignity and sovereignty, just and important though that is. The defence of the socialist system in the DPRK is a task that the world's people hold dear, and they are at one with the Korean people in their aspirations for the reunification of their homeland.

In these circumstances, Workers' Weekly explains, the DPRK has released documents which give the progressive forces an insight into and understanding of its thinking and policies at this crucial juncture in world history, at the beginning of the 21st century.

The documents explain the "army-first" policy of the DPRK, which attaches the greatest importance to military affairs, despite its recent grave difficulties at home and abroad, and under which the DRPK has continued to strengthen its defence capabilities. This policy is inseparable from the leadership of Kim Jong Il, the commentary says, thus taking the helm of Party, state and military affairs. The documents point out that Kim Jong Il has ensured that the Korean People's Army has taken the lead in defending socialism, and made it his priority to strengthen it politically, ideologically, militarily and technologically. With this policy taking root under Kim Jong Il's leadership, the military power of the country has been consolidated. At the same time, under this policy, the unity of the army and the whole people is at the foundation of Korean society, and the ideological oneness of the army and the people, based on the revolutionary spirit of the KPA soldiers, is defined as the essence of this unity. This policy, the documents explain, therefore ensures that the DPRK will always emerge victorious, because no weapon can destroy that unity.

The documents also explain the importance to the DPRK of the defence of socialism. Equipping the Korean people with socialist ideology, through which they are convinced of the validity of socialism through their own choice, as the future of humanity, has been made an indispensable task.

Though the "West" reckoned that economic stagnation and a difficult life would engender popular unrest and invite anti-socialist sedition in the DPRK, their hopes have not been realised. There is no sign of political upheaval or instability. The documents point out that, on the contrary, Kim Jong Il has united together with the Korean people to defend and develop socialism. The "West" has failed to destroy the DPRK, despite the Bush administration branding the people's republic as a "rogue state" and sending into reverse the dialogue and negotiations which had been adopted with the DPRK.

Workers' Weekly warmly supports the Korean people under the leadership of Kim Jong Il in their defence of their dignity, their sovereignty and in their sacred task of the defence of socialism, the present and future of humankind. It is sure that at this historical juncture, the "army-first" policy which the whole people has adopted will secure their advance and defeat the strategies of imperialism to conquer the DPRK, as imperialism is trying to achieve with states around the world which it declares as illegitimate.

Workers' Weekly extends its best wishes and congratulations to Kim Jong Il on the 10th anniversary of his election as supreme commander of the Korean People's Army.

Article Index

Foreign Office Meets with DPRK Delegation in London

In a statement, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reports that it hosted a high-level North Korean delegation headed by North Korea Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon on December 20. It said that meeting was part of the continued diplomatic effort to support the coming together of North and South Korea.

Choe Su Hon met Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, briefly and held longer talks with Denis MacShane, the Foreign Office Minister responsible for Korea. He invited Dr MacShane to visit Pyongyang himself next year to deepen relations between Britain and North Korea.

It is the first time that a senior North Korean diplomatic team has visited Britain to meet with the British government. A year ago, following renewed appeals by the DPRK, the British government opened diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. However, now as then, the British government is reluctant to act in good faith with the DPRK. The Foreign Office arrogantly states in its statement that Britain "continues to press the North Koreans to ensure that the Embassy is granted full diplomatic working conditions including the freedom of movement for diplomats and modern communication facilities".

Denis MacShane said:

"Britain attaches high importance to contributing to the easing of tensions in the Korean peninsular. Tony Blair has a warm relationship with President Kim Dae-Jung the Nobel prize-winning Korean leader, together with his opposite number in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Il took an important step in opening up links.

"Now we want North Korea to move forward by discussing without pre-conditions the need for family reunions and communication links between North and South. Vice Minister Choe can take a clear message back to Pyongyang. I will be happy to visit once the North Korean government accept that the world has fundamentally changed since 11 September. It is not enough to condemn world terrorism. We need to see an end to nuclear proliferation and no country giving shelter to hi-jackers and terrorists. There will be growing interest in North Korea as the World Cup approaches and more publicity given to the human rights abuses that exist there as in all communist dictatorships. The British government want to see North Korea open for trade and investment but progress must be on the basis of normal country-to-country diplomatic relations.

"I would like North Korea to take up Colin Powell’s offer of 'talks, any where, any time' so that the United States and North Korea can enter into dialogue. I told Mr Choe that setting pre-conditions was never a helpful way forward and that harking back to statements made by the previous administration was pointless. President Bush is the US President and it is with his administration and its policy that North Korea must engage."

The British Foreign Office, if it is to see the relations with the DPRK prosper, must drop its stance of big power chauvinism and anti-communism that is intent on teaching inferior states about "democracy" and "jointing the international community". Denis MacShane, it is reported, reiterated Britain's "concerns" about a number of areas of North Korean policy. This is from a government that has troops throughout the globe and is militarily intervening in Afghanistan in an act of state terrorism, that holds onto its nuclear arsenal, has unpopularly pushed through its "anti-terrorism" laws, and is still whipping up hysteria about "asylum seekers" and "foreign immigrants". In these circumstances, what the Foreign Office reports on its discussions which "covered missile proliferation, human rights abuses, North Korea’s refusals to talk constructively to the US and South Korea, links to past acts of terror, and controlled access for foreign aid workers and diplomats to the country and its people" must be condemned. It is with the British government that significant changes need to be brought about.

Article Index

Sweeping Anti-Chongryun Campaign in Japan; Ethnic Banks’ Bankruptcy Develops to Political Repression

The following article is taken from The People's Korea online.

Following the bankruptcy of Tokyo metropolitan Korean credit association under Chongryun (General Association of Korean Residents in Japan), the Tokyo metropolitan police authorities arrested the former director of the Financial Bureau of Chongryun’s Central Headquarters on the charge of being responsible for the "evasion of inspection" of the local ethnic bank, and on November 29 ransacked the central head office of Chongryun by mobilising over 300 prosecution and police officials. At the same time, they searched the Tokyo metropolitan headquarters and Western Tokyo headquarters of Chongryun.

Chongryun is a pro-Pyongyang Korean organisation in Japan, which has been functioning as a semi-official representative embassy-like office of the DPRK with which Japan has yet to normalise its diplomatic relations. And this is the first time that the Japanese investigation authorities have raided the central head office of Chongryun.

The Japanese investigation authorities’ repressive campaign in the wake of the bank failure involved searching 47 places on 56 occasions, arresting 15 persons and "questioning" more than 100 people for almost no reason. "This is nothing but a political suppression of Koreans in Japan and ethnic financial institutions of Chongryun, a crackdown prompted by racial discrimination," Chongryun condemned the Japanese authorities in its statement.

"All the activities of Chongryun are legitimate ones in line with the Japanese laws and there has been nothing illegal in the transactions with our credit associations (banks)," it said.

On December 5, a meeting of Korean residents in Japan was held in central Tokyo to denounce Tokyo’s high-handed investigation into Chongryun, calling for an immediate halt to its political repression of the ethnic group.

Tokyo’s Moves Represent Its Hostility to Pyongyang: FM spokesman

An unprecedented anti-Chongryun drive by the Tokyo government caused a wave of Pyongyang’s accusations. The first reaction came in the form of a statement by a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of North Korea on the following day. It said:

It goes to prove that such search was an intentional political plot to attack Chongryun itself. As far as the issue of the Korean bank is concerned, it is the matter caused by the Japanese economy in depression, not by any illegal transactions or "evasion of inspection".

A large number of businesses in Japan are now undergoing a financial crisis.

Chongryun has repeatedly clarified to the Japanese government that there has been nothing in violation of the Japanese laws in its transactions with the Korean credit associations and all their activities have been legitimate ones in line with them.

This notwithstanding, the Japanese authorities exaggerated only the issue of the Korean bank in particular, and forcibly searched even the Central Headquarters of Chongryun, a dignified overseas citizens’ organisation of the DPRK, deliberately pulling it up without any legal ground. This was a high-handed criminal act and a despicable political crackdown upon Chongryun and Korean compatriots in Japan, and, furthermore, a flagrant infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK.

It is universally known that the Japanese authorities applied the "Anti-Subversive Activities Act" to Chongryun and escalated its suppression under various pretexts whenever the situation in the surrounding areas grew tense.

However, we cannot but follow this incident with particular vigilance as this is the first undisguised political suppression of Chongryun since its formation and this took place at a time when Japan was putting into practice its wild design for overseas expansion in real earnest, taking advantage of the "anti-terror war".

We will never tolerate such a tyrannical act as seriously mocking at and antagonising the DPRK and aggravating the regional situation, nor will we remain a passive onlooker at the escalating anti-DPRK moves.

The Japanese authorities should stop at once the fascist suppression of Chongryun, apologise for this and unconditionally and immediately release the unreasonably arrested people.

Media, mass rallies at home and abroad denounce Tokyo

A Pyongyang meeting took place on December 1 to denounce the Japanese authorities’ crackdown upon Chongryun, which was followed by local residents in North Korea such as people in Wonsan, Kangwon Province, and different trade unions like the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea. A reporter at the Pyongyang rally said that the Japanese government’s move was stirring up bitter national resentment not only among the Chongryun organisations and the Korean community in Japan but also among all the Korean people. The meeting was attended by Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and Ryang Man Gil, chairman of the Pyongyang City People’s Committee, and other leaders of different political parties and social organisations.

And statements condemning Tokyo were issued one after another by overseas Korean organisations including the General Association of Koreans in China, the United Confederation of Koreans in Russia, and the Society for Co-operation of Koreans in Germany, the Western Regional Federation of Koreans in the U.S., the Council of Korean National Movement Organisations in the U.S., and so on.

In its statement on December 1, the United Confederation of Koreans in Russia said that the Japanese authorities’ recent repression of Chongryun was not different from the brutal action of countering the crisis caused by the natural disaster of the Kanto Earthquake of 1923 with the bitterest tragedy, a mass murder of Koreans.

In the meantime, Rodong Sinmun, organ of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and Minju Joson, organ of the DPRK government, slammed the Japanese government for its anti-Chongryun campaign. Rodong Sinmun in its December 3 signed article said: "The Japanese authorities are recklessly suppressing the Koreans in Japan, the direct victims of Japan’s forcible drafting in the period of its occupation of Korea, and Chongryun, their legitimate organisation, though they have not redressed its crime-woven past. This is, in fact, a double crime."

Article Index

Train Workers in 24-hour Strike

Virgin Trains staff working at London Euston station are taking part in a 24-hour walkout today, December 24.

The workers are among 300 station and concourse workers with the Rail, Maritime and Transport union taking action at stations around the country.

No train drivers are involved in the action and Virgin claims there will be no disruption to services.

Article Index

US Scraps ABM Treaty – And Post-Sept. 11 Co-operative Spirit As Well?

The following is an excerpt from the foreign media reaction as compiled by the US Department of State, December 19, 2001.

President Bush's formal notice of the US's withdrawal from the 1972 ABM Treaty drew predictable fire overseas. Upon hearing the news, editorialists (primarily in Russia, NATO capitals, East and South Asia) resurrected pre-9/11 charges of the US's acting unilaterally, undermining arms control regimes, and provoking an arms race by pursuing missile defence. Almost no one endorsed Bush's argument that Sept. 11 underscored the need for MD. Writers, instead, made the opposite case: The terrorist attacks demonstrated the "uselessness" of a missile shield. Many found it especially galling that Washington was "jeopardising" its coalition-building efforts by reverting to "self-willed unilateralism". A Toronto writer summed up the resentful mood: "The ABM announcement demolishes the conventional wisdom that the terror attacks...taught the Bush administration that unilateralism is not the way to go." Voices of support – mainly conservative dailies in Britain, a few smaller European capitals, Canada and Taiwan – were rare. They pointed to the US's right to self-defence and its foresight in moving beyond Cold War "gridlock". Themes follow:

Russian media see the Bush move as a "mistake", a potential "blow" to Putin's pro-West agenda. Some government and non-official papers adopted the Kremlin's tone of "restraint", describing Bush's decision as mistaken, but not unexpected. Putin's muted reaction was "balanced" and appropriate in light of recent progress in bilateral relations, according to these writers. They argued that Moscow's interests are better served by countenancing Washington's "escapades", than by protesting in vain. "Russia clearly needs the West more than the West needs Russia, so the Kremlin will keep up the policy of rapprochement," concluded one weekly. Others, nationalist as well as more mainstream papers, were sceptical of official statements downplaying the ABM abrogation as "no danger to Russian security" and no major obstacle to improved ties. For them, the unilateral withdrawal served as proof that US avowals of a new partnership amounted to "empty talk". A parliamentary broadsheet held: "When the US needed support...in Afghanistan they called us a partner, but they forgot the partnership once they decided to scrap ABM." Some in this camp portrayed Bush's move as an "insult" to Russia and a "heavy blow" to Putin's pro-West policies.

For many European writers, Russia's "restrained" reaction was the only reassuring note. In pre-9/11 commentary, analysts feared a hostile Russian response should the US abrogate the treaty in order to proceed with MD. The current view, however, was that Putin would not squander benefits accrued from Russia's joining the anti-terror alliance by protesting too strongly – especially were the US to proffer "consolation prizes" such as a written agreement on nuclear arms reductions. Some writers in NATO capitals urged the US to recognise that Bush's decision dealt a "serious blow to Putin's prestige" at home (especially in "military and KGB circles fed with anti-American propaganda"). Therefore, they maintained, the US must be forthcoming with more "dividends" for Putin – along the lines of the recent deal on closer NATO-Russian ties – in order to ensure domestic support for his Westward tilt.

East Asian outlets – not only Beijing and Hong Kong, but also Tokyo and Seoul – registered the most alarm. Media characterised the Bush decision as a "threat to world peace" and as evidence of USG double standards: Washington "stresses international co-operation in its efforts to build a coalition against terrorism, while unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM Treaty for its own interests", averred a Seoul daily. In copious comment, Chinese papers underscored the Bush administration's perceived isolation on the issue (they repeatedly noted international opposition to the ABM pullout, often citing Western media criticism). Beijing's official press also reiterated shop-worn suspicions of US motives for pursuing MD, seeing it as a means for the "sole superpower to achieve hegemony and establish a US-dominated unipolar world." ...

RUSSIA: "Pentagon Goes Populist"

Artyom Rud asserted in the official parliamentary Parlamentskaya Gazeta (19/12/01): "Though the Americans claim they are ready to deploy NMD, technological problems won't let them do so until 2008-2010. The Pentagon's optimistic reports about the NMD programme are mostly 'populist' and are meant to get Congress to allocate more funds for the project."

"US Cuts Russia Down To Size"

Pavel Felgengauer commented in the reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti (# 51, 19/12/01): "Coming to Russia next spring, Bush may sign an accord on mutual arms reduction. Moscow says it must be a treaty. Washington believes that friends can do without formalities – a handshake will suffice. The Americans are likely to prevail again: it is hard to expect the treaty to be prepared in the time left before the spring. If something is to be signed at the next summit, it is going to be a non-binding agreement or charter, at best.... Russia clearly needs the West more than the West needs Russia, so the Kremlin will keep up the policy of rapprochement with the United States, no matter what.... Apparently, Washington, as it decided (for the first time in world history) to scrap an arms control agreement, wanted to cut Russia down to size in the first place. Only a month ago, it sought an alliance with Moscow, thinking it vital for the success of the anti-terrorist coalition. Now that is a thing of the past. With the Taleban and Al Qaida knocked down and the US and British troops deployed, the need for Russian assistance is not all that great.... But Moscow does not despair – terrorists are still there, and America may still have a brush with China over Taiwan. We are ever ready to offer friendship and support in exchange for admission to the WTO, NATO.... The Kremlin seems to realise that, with major technological and economic reforms in Russia long overdue, it can't get them off the ground without a close alliance with the West."

"Moscow Loses First Major Battle"

Igor Korotchenko commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (18/12/01): "Having virtually scuttled the negotiations with the US on a modified ABM treaty, with Washington growing even more determined to pull out of the treaty, the (Russian) Defence Ministry assured the President that it was nothing much and that the US's decision caused no damage to Russia's security. Putin's response to Washington's unilateral move, basically, is a replica of the position of Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov and First Deputy Chief of the Army Staff General Yuriy Baluyevskiy. Washington's withdrawal from the ABM treaty, in effect, is Russia's first major foreign policy setback and has serious implications for strategic stability in the world."

"US Creates Security Vacuum"

Yevgeniy Grigoryev said in the centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (18/12/01): "It was with reason that Russia and many other countries, including the US's allies, worried about the ABM treaty. That they have reacted sort of calmly to Washington's statement does not mean that they don't care. The US's policy and behaviour directly affect the interests of the rest of the world.... Now there is the question: What is Russia supposed to do under the circumstances? Of course, with the ABM or without it, we can't fence ourselves from the US. That would be the end of anything worth the name of policy. It is imperative that Russia develop and maintain good relations with the Americans, never mind their escapades and 'surprises'. Their latest, while helping us learn more about cowboy manners, doesn't free us of having to do our utmost to 'minimise' the damage to strategic stability and disarmament, even more to think of a future security architecture."

"Russia Humiliated"

The nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (18/12/01) front-paged this by Vasiliy Safronchuk: "It would seem that, with strong opposition to renouncing the ABM treaty inside the US and outside it, the Kremlin could have effectively resisted the Americans' trying to dismantle the current system of arms control. Instead, Putin avoided even the cautioning statements he had made before.... It looks as if Bush and Putin co-ordinated their statements.... Russia must review all its agreements with the US on arms control and freeze the accords on heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple warheads."

"Partnership Questioned"

Anatoliy Anisimov commented on page one of the official parliamentary Parlamentskaya Gazeta (15/12/01): "Unfortunately, everything we have heard over the last few years about the basically new non-confrontational, if not partner-like, relationships between the US and Russia, has turned out to be empty talk. When the Americans needed support for their military action in Afghanistan, they called us a partner. But they forgot the partnership once they decided that they wanted to scrap the ABM Treaty, a cornerstone of the disarmament policy. It is true what people say about charity beginning at home. With the damage done, no accolades over President Putin's statement will repair it."

"Moscow Reluctant To Slow Progress"

The centrist army Krasnaya Zvezda (15/12/01) noted in a comment by Vadim Markushin on page one: "Moscow has taken a balanced position, reluctant to slow progress in the bilateral relations it has made jointly with Washington in the past few months."

"Gloating Is Inappropriate"

Mikhail Khodaryonok said in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (15/12/01): "The tests that are being carried out in the US are without precedent. Interception (of incoming missiles) is an incredibly complicated thing, so failures at the early stage are unavoidable. Gloating or rejoicing maliciously at setbacks would be most inappropriate.... The latest failure has born out what Russian President Vladimir Putin said about the US's NMD posing no threat to Russia's security."

"Ulterior Motives"

Anatoliy Verbin contended in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (15/12/01): "Serious plans usually have serious motives or problems behind them. So apparently, the motives behind the new Star Wars programme differ considerably from what is said publicly. Only a very naive person can believe that countries whose military potentials will never be nearly as big as the ex-USSR's pose a threat to the US. You can't trust the Americans when they refer to 'international terrorism' as their other enemy either. To pull out of the ABM treaty, they must have had far more important reasons. Of those, the state of the US economy seems to be the chief one. Indications are that the world's capitalist economy, especially the US economy, needs a big stimulus."

"A Planned Mistake"

Reformist Izvestiya (14/12/01) front-paged a comment by Svetlana Babayeva, Yevgeniy Bai and Dmitriy Safonov: "In effect, the Russian and American presidents made that decision together at George Bush's ranch in Texas. That it came as no surprise is evidence of a new quality of relations between the two countries. Putin was restrained. He said that the unilateral withdrawal from the treaty 'poses no danger to Russia's national security'. Other Russian officials have been just as restrained. Even if critics, contrary to the new climate of (US-Russian) relations, tried something stronger than rhetoric, they would be hard put to do so. Nobody knows what Russia can do besides being discontented or why it should it should do anything else."

"Moscow Suffers Defeat"

Sergey Guliy stated on page one of reformist Noviye Izvestiya (14/12/01): "Fighting to hold its own on what it considers a key foreign policy issue, Moscow has suffered yet another ignominious defeat. It might have avoided it, though, if Putin had accepted a compromise, as Washington in the last year of Clinton's presidency wooed Moscow to make it agree to modifying the treaty so that, with its basic provisions remaining unchanged, the US could carry out MD tests.... The fact that Bush and Putin have suddenly become emotionally attached to one another can only influence the methods they use to pursue their policies, not the policies themselves."

"It Is Not A Crime. It is a Mistake"

Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (14/12/01) editorialised on page one: "According to this newspaper's experts, the US's decision to pull out of the ABM treaty can complicate its relations with Russia. The same newspaper quoted Aleksey Arbatov, deputy chairman of the Duma's defence committee: 'This decision is not meant to insult or hurt Russia. Yet this is exactly what it has done. The US would have had many more years for research and testing without having to breach the ABM treaty. All it would have had to do is co-ordinate with Russia in amending it. To use Talleyrand's words, (Washington's decision) is worse than a crime. It is a mistake.' Konstantin Kosachev, deputy chairman of the Duma's foreign relations committee, said, 'Politically, the US's decision is at variance with the new climate of trust and co-operation characteristic of relations between the two countries in the months after September 11.'"

"Bush Acts As He Sees Fit"

Aleksandr Kuranov commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (14/12/01): "The US president, taking advantage of the post-September 11 situation, keeps acting in foreign affairs as he sees fit. Russian politicians should not be too hopeful as they shake hands with Bush and see smiles on the face of Secretary of State Colin Powell, perhaps the most experienced and 'proper' member of the current US leadership. He may really think that Bush needs to be cured of Russophobia, but there are more than enough people around the President who think otherwise."

"Bush Capers About, But Nobody's Afraid in Moscow"

Reformist business-oriented Kommersant (14/12/01) cited several Russian officials in an article by Gennadiy Sysoyev on page one: "Moscow, while dubbing the US's decision a mistake, pretends that nothing terrible has happened. President Putin is quite certain that it 'poses no danger to Russia's national security'. All politicians whose opinions amount to Moscow's official position sound placating, saying the same things, which is rare. Presidential aide Sergey Yastrzhembskiy: 'Russia's reaction will be calm since our nuclear potential is enough to protect our national interests.' Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov: 'We feel confident as far as our defence capability is concerned.' Chief of the Russian army staff Anatoliy Kvashnin: 'Militarily, the issue of the US's withdrawal from the ABM treaty is solvable'.... Reluctance to mar relations with the US is not the only reason for Moscow's calmness. Russia still hopes to get compensation for maintaining composure."

"It Doesn't Seem Like A Step In The Right Direction"

Vadim Markushin remarked in centrist army Krasnaya Zvezda (14/12/01): "Russia's military security will be none the worse for that. But military wariness will persist in spite of the bilateral relations beginning to change for the better. Russia will have to take adequate retaliatory measures to strengthen its security. Other powers, including China and France, won't remain indifferent either. So the US president's statement does not sound like a step in the right direction."

"A Blow To Putin's Merger Policy"

Nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (14/12/01) ran this by Vyacheslav Tetekin: "The US's decision is a heavy blow to the policy of Russia's merger with the West which President Putin has worked hard to implement in the last few months. With the Russian strategic forces a major factor and the only deterrent to the US's aggressiveness, the Americans clearly aim to render it useless. That Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Moscow in advance...makes no difference. The timing is quite remarkable. The US decision is sure to upset the entire system of international agreements of the last few decades. Putin, apparently softened by the flattery of Western politicians and the media, does not seem able to respond firmly, as the leader of a great power should, to the dangerous moves by his new 'ally'.... We must think of Russia's security. We need to think fast, and we need to act even faster. It is time we stopped playing the game of 'the threat of international terrorism' and recognise that a real threat comes from the Kremlin's new 'ally', the USA."

"One-Sided Bush"

Reformist, business-oriented Kommersant (13/12/01) front-paged a comment by Leonid Gankin: "The US president has confirmed his country's plan to withdraw from the ABM Treaty unilaterally. Russia's reaction will not be too strong. It would look irrelevant, as relations between Moscow and Washington have been very close indeed over the past few months.... According to US sources, Vladimir Putin, meeting with George Bush in the US last month, assured him that the relations between the two countries won't be impaired even if the US withdraws from the treaty unilaterally."

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For Your Reference

Argentina Suspends Debt Payments

New Argentine President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa said on Sunday, December 23, that he will suspend payments on the country's public foreign debt. Rodriguez Saa said he will not devalue the peso nor dollarise the economy but will introduce a new currency alongside the peso.

The following is a summary of Saa's comments on the day he was sworn in.

* Argentina will suspend payments of foreign debt.

* All funds earmarked in the budget for foreign debt payment during the moratorium will be used for job creation and social programmes.

* Devaluation and dollarisation are "false options".

* A new currency, alongside the peso and US dollar, will be introduced to increase liquidity in the cash-depleted economy.

* An emergency food distribution plan will be drawn up.

* Work to begin on Sunday night on job creation programmes to employ 1 million people.

* No public servant can earn more than the president, whose monthly remuneration will be $3,000.

* An immediate hiring freeze in the public sector with vacant positions left unfilled.

* National public service fleet of vehicles to be sold.

* Devaluation would cut the salaries of workers by the same proportion as a spike in consumer prices.

* Devaluation would cut consumers' purchasing power and intensify the crisis.

* There will be incentives for production and new investment.

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