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NMD not directed against China: Cohen

BEIJING, JULY 13. The U.S. Defence Secretary, Mr. William Cohen today tried to reassure China that the proposed U.S. National Defence System (NMD), which China strongly opposes, was not designed to counter China and would not destabilise global arms control and non-proliferation efforts.

If the United States goes ahead with NMD, its purpose would be ``to stop a limited number of missiles from isolated and dangerous nations and terrorists,'' Mr. Cohen said in a speech at the People's Liberation Army's National Defence University. ``It is designed to enhance peace and stability, not to threaten the security of any nation,'' he said. In talks yesterday, the Chinese Defence Minister, Mr. Chi Haotian had urged Mr. Cohen to abandon NMD and told him that Taiwan was an ``internal matter.'' China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, has called on Taiwan to support its ``One China'' principle, which Taipei has rejected.

But Mr. Cohen's speech reiterated the U.S. position of working towards peaceful resolution of differences between China and Taiwan and maintaining the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the United States provides military aid to Taiwan. ``Mr. Chen Shui- Bian's election creates a window of opportunity for renewed dialogue and new ideas. China's path of restraint as you `watch and listen' is permitting Taiwan's new leaders the opportunity to find a way forward,'' Mr. Cohen said, referring to Mr. Shui- Bian's election this spring as Chief Executive of the island republic.

- DPA

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