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U.S. ready to allow Moscow to monitor missile defense system

RIA Novosti

20/03/2008 12:23 MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - The United States has proposed an array of confidence building measures to Russia, in particular allowing Moscow to monitor U.S. missile defense elements in Central Europe, Russia's foreign minister has said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put forward proposals at a meeting Tuesday to ease Moscow's concerns, and said the plan would be finalized in writing by the end of the day; the papers were handed to Russia on Wednesday.

Sergei Lavrov called the new proposals "useful and important" on Thursday.

"The U.S. side is ready to propose a series of confidence building measures to help convince us that the system is not working against us," he said in an interview with the daily Izvestia. "We will be able to track what the radar [in the Czech Republic] is doing and the real condition of the interceptor missile base [in Poland] -- involving both the human factor and technical means."

He reiterated Russia's position on the missile defense issue: "This step would further erode strategic stability in the world."

He said Moscow had managed to make the Americans "acknowledge that our concerns are not unfounded."

"They are continuing to persuade us that they have no intention of using these bases in Poland and the Czech Republic against us, but they have to accept our argument as well - in such cases it's the potential and not the intention that matters," Lavrov said.

The top diplomats and defense chiefs failed at the talks in Moscow to reach an agreement on Washington's plans to deploy a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, which Moscow views as a threat to its own security, but both sides agreed to continue negotiations.

After the last round of talks between the four ministers in October 2007, the U.S. sent written proposals that Russia said contradicted the agreements reached at the discussions.

On Tuesday, Rice admitted that there had been some discrepancies between the conceptual ideas put forward at the October meeting and the subsequent written proposals.



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