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U.S., RUSSIA TO OPEN TRADE IN CATEGORIES ONCE BANNED

The Bush administration will open trade with Russia in formerly banned areas, including U.S. purchase of space and nuclear technology, the White House announced Monday.

The Pentagon will purchase the Russian Topaz space nuclear reactor for experimental use and Hall thrusters used to propel objects in space, said President Bush's spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater. In addition, the Energy Department will purchase plutonium-238 used for space power."These transactions clearly signal our desire to normalize trade with the new states," he said.

"The remarkable changes occurring in Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union offer the United States unique opportunities to expand trade with these countries,," Fitzwater said.

White House officials said the trade value of the items announced Monday would be $14 million.

"It's not a handout or a windfall, but it is a beginning of a serious examination by both countries of ways in which we can buy their technology and they can benefit," said Fitzwater when asked about the relatively minor expenditure.

The administration is still considering a broader aid package to the former Soviet Union and will have future announcements on such items as ruble-stabilization and increased direct aid, he said.

He also said the administration

is "working to remove remaining barriers to commercial imports of non-military items involving the private sector. In those few instances where import licenses may be required, we will review such licenses expeditiously."

Fitzwater said the items being purchased all represent technologies in which either the Russians were ahead of the United States or the United States could purchase it more cheaply from Russia than develop it domestically.