DATE=6/6/2000 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=PRESIDENT CLINTON'S MOSCOW MEETING NUMBER=6-11857 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 INTERNET=YES CONTENT= INTRO: President Clinton has returned from what appears to be his last visit to Europe as President. The most important stop on the week-long trip was a meeting in Moscow with President Putin on an anti- missile defense system the United States is thinking of building. The Russian leader did not agree to amend a treaty the system appears to violate, but there were some modest gains on nuclear disarmament, and the trip has fueled the creative energies of America's newspaper editorial writers. We get a sampling now from ___________ in today's U-S Opinion roundup. TEXT: Expectations were not high before the trip, that the Russians would agree to U-S requests for treaty modifications that would allow the Anti-Missile Defense to go forward unopposed. So the fact that President Clinton made little progress in that direction was not a surprise. But many papers are calling high-level Kremlin meetings reasonably productive. In South Carolina, Charleston's Post and Courier is just glad that Mr. Clinton did not allow the Russians to prematurely dictate limitations of a future U-S anti-missile defense system. VOICE: The bad news [from the meeting] ... is that he [Clinton] agreed that discussions of offensive and defensive strategic arms should be linked together. Such linkage would be a straitjacket for the next president. It enshrines the Cold War policy of "mutual assured destruction," which preferred offensive weapons to defensive ones. If adhered to, it would give Russia a veto power over American efforts to defend against non-Russian threats. That makes linkage an unstable and unworkable policy, one that Mr. Clinton was wrong to embrace and that his successor should avoid. TEXT: In Northern California, the San Jose Mercury News is pleased the president failed to convince the Russians, because it is skeptical about the system's workability. VOICE: [Mr.] Putin helped head off an American gamble that could undermine arms control. And that applause you hear in the wings comes not just from the Kremlin, but from our Western European allies as well. TEXT: In the Midwest, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is looking ahead, suggesting a better way to defeat the threat needs to be found. VOICE: Now, more than ever, it is clear that [President] Clinton should give up on his plan and instead seek other ways to defend against a possible missile attack. One alternative worth examining was suggested to him by Russian President Vladimir Putin: a system that would intercept rockets while they are ascending from their launch pads. By contrast, the plan contemplated by [Mr.] Clinton foresees interceptors that would collide with enemy missile warheads while in space. ... Intercepting rockets in the `boost phase" of their flight is much less difficult than hitting warheads in space; it would probably be cheaper, and it would not violate that 1972 treaty, which is a keystone of the entire arms-control effort. TEXT: Still in the Midwest, Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal is concerned that even if the anti-missile- defense system is begun, it will not work, but can have detrimental effects on arms control. VOICE: Knight Ridder Newspapers surveyed leading physicists and found a consensus doubtful that the technology exists to shoot down incoming missiles in a reliable way. The countermeasures are both cheap and formidable. Decoys could overwhelm the system. Those determined to strike might use ships to launch low-flying cruise missiles or resort to biological or chemical weapons. The country has already spent 60-billion dollars on a missile defense. Should it invest yet more money? For now, the program has not shown a tangible benefit. The question facing President Clinton is whether to plunge ahead anyway in pursuit of apolitical benefit. He might ask: What harm, since the technology does not exist? A president should not be so expedient. When the only superpower acts, other countries readily take note. TEXT: Taking a different view, on the other side of the nation, Portland's [Maine] Press Herald headlines its comment: "Despite Russian reluctance, U-S needs an A-B-M system. A limited system would protect Americans without threatening anyone else." VOICE: [President] Putin acknowledged that the danger of limited missile attack existed, and did not close the door to future discussions about establishing defensive sitemaps. He and [Mr.] Clinton did agree to two lesser measures to defuse international tensions, first by jointly building and staffing a nuclear missile warning center in Moscow, and by having each nation agree to destroy [34-metric tons] of its weapons-grade plutonium, enough to build thousands of nuclear weapons. TEXT: The San Francisco Chronicle is one of several papers that are skeptical of the rationale for the proposed anti-missile system. VOICE: [President] Putin's objections to the anti-missile system are obvious. From the Russian perspective, an anti-missile system gives the United States a first-strike capability. Why then, did [Mr.] Clinton try to persuade [Mr.] Putin to permit the United States to build a "limited" anti-missile system? And why are both Al Gore and George Bush rushing to dismantle one of the most important treaties signed during the Cold War? Against whom must we protect ourselves? TEXT: Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette agrees that no major breakthroughs were accomplished, with the two leaders "agreeing to disagree" on the limited missile defense system. But adds the Post-Gazette: VOICE: ... the businesslike, respectful manner in which both leaders presented their differences, and vowed to continue trying to reconcile them, suggests that the bilateral relationship has matured. Not only was the open hostility and tension of the old Soviet-era summits gone, so was the wildly optimistic and cozy tenor of President Clinton's earlier gatherings with Boris Yeltsin. ... The greater formality ... reflects a more realistic relationship. TEXT: With that, we conclude this sampling of comment on the outcome of President Clinton's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin last weekend in Moscow. NEB/ANG/RAE 06-Jun-2000 13:00 PM EDT (06-Jun-2000 1700 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .