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Russia concerned over unsuccessful efforts to establish MidEast nuclear-free zone

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GENEVA, July 7 (RIA Novosti, Yekaterina Andrianova) - Russia supports efforts to establish new nuclear-free zones, and is concerned that the process in the Middle East has stalled, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations said in Geneva Thursday.

Leonid Skotnikov told a disarmament conference, "We are concerned that efforts to create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East have stalled, particularly given the complicated military and political situation in the area."

According to Skotnikov, the issue is equally important for South Asia (namely, India and Pakistan, two nuclear countries), as it could be instrumental for promoting regional security and stability.

Skotnikov said Russia welcomed a draft agreement on a nuclear-free zone that had been coordinated with Central Asian nations.

Moreover, Russia is ready to settle the remaining issues regarding the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty as part of the dialogue between nuclear countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which comprises 10 nations.

Skotnikov said Russia also advocated an idea to establish a committee on security guarantees for non-nuclear nations within the disarmament conference.

"Russia is ready to develop a global agreement on negative security guarantees, if it is to take into consideration our military doctrine and national security concept," he said.

According to Skotnikov, security guarantees are particularly important in the context of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

"Russia invariably supports NPT non-nuclear states' commitment to securing such guarantees," he said.

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