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    U.S., NATO ready to consider ratifying CFE treaty - state dept.

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    The U.S. and NATO are concerned over Russia's threat to withdraw from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) and are ready to look at ratifying the document, the assistant secretary of state said.

    WASHINGTON, November 6 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. and NATO are concerned over Russia's threat to withdraw from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) and are ready to look at ratifying the document, the assistant secretary of state said.

    Speaking in Washington at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), David Kramer said that the U.S. and Russia held talks October 12 in Berlin on the arms control agreement and are preparing for further negotiations.

    The amended Soviet-era treaty, due to be discussed in Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, Tuesday, was signed in 1999 in Istanbul and has so far only been ratified by Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine.

    President Vladimir Putin declared in July a moratorium on the CFE Treaty, which limits Russian and NATO conventional forces and heavy weaponry in Europe. No NATO countries have ratified the treaty's amended version, and the Russian moratorium is likely to come into force December 12, if Western countries do not ratify the document.

    Kramer said that if Russia was willing to fulfill its Istanbul commitments, then NATO members would look at ratifying the document, adding that Russia pledged in 1999 to withdraw its forces from Georgia and Moldova.

    Russia completed the pullout of its military garrison from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, handing over control of its headquarters to Georgia's Defense Ministry last December, and formally handed over its military base at Akhalkalaki in southern Georgia to Tbilisi in June, ahead of the October 2007 deadline.

    There are 500 Russian servicemen deployed in Moldova's breakaway Transdnestr region, which are guarding Europe's largest arms depot.

    Moscow considers the original CFE Treaty, signed in 1990 by 30 countries to reduce conventional military forces on the continent, to be outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion.

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