Borderline Deal

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MOSCOW: Moving to counter NATO expansion while shaving money from its military budget, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgystan agreed to reduce troops along a 4,340 mile border with China. The still-unpublished treaty reportedly treats Russia and the three Central Asian states as one bloc, with China on the other side. Each side may deploy 3,900 tanks, 4,500 armored vehicles and an unspecified number of conventional aircraft. The treaty comes as part of a joint declaration signed Wednesday by President Boris Yeltsin and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin calling for "multipolar" world where no one country (read the U.S.) can wield complete dominance. Although the declaration was a clear shot at perceived U.S. hegemony, Zemin Thursday said it did not mean Russia and China were allying against the U.S.