Miliband and Rice forge joint approach on US arms export controls

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke optimistically about prospects for treaties that would ease US arms export controls to Britain and Australia.

The two also said in a joint news conference that they were in agreement about policy on Iran. They said they would discuss a package of incentives that they and other world powers recently offered Iran in an attempt to lure Tehran back into negotiations over its disputed nuclear power programme.

The US Senate was considering treaties that would loosen export controls for Britain and Australia if they met certain requirements for preventing transfers to other countries of sensitive US arms technology they receive.

Mr Miliband said politicians on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which held a hearing yesterday, seemed to agree with the Bush administration about the benefits of the two defence cooperation treaties. Proponents say the treaties would boost trade between allies.

“We look forward to the passage of the treaty, which has gone through the House of Commons in the UK and obviously would be a major contribution to the relations between our two countries,” Mr Miliband said.

Ms Rice said passage of the treaty, which must be approved by the Senate, was a high priority for the Bush administration.

“We believe very strongly this cements in many ways one of the strongest defense relationships that has ever really existed,” she said.

Next up, Ms Rice plans to take Mr Miliband on a trip to her out-of-Washington home in Palo Alto, California, today and tomorrow.

Ms Rice was a political science professor and provost of Stanford University in Palo Alto. She has said that she plans to return to Stanford next year when the Bush administration leaves office.

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