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Europe missile shield decision should include Russia - French DM

RIA Novosti

15/03/2007 18:27 PARIS, March 15 (RIA Novosti) - Any decision to deploy elements of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe should be made only after a genuine dialogue with Russia, France's defense minister said Thursday.

The United States recently announced plans to build a radar installation in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland in the next five years. The U.S. insists that the European missile shield is designed to counter possible attacks from "rogue states," including Iran and North Korea.

Michele Alliot-Marie said the deployment of elements of a U.S. missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland "creates a serious problem. Russia feels that it is distrusted."

"Actions that could push Russia back into self-isolation are inadmissible," she said, adding the issue of the U.S. missile shield requires "greater transparency."

Moscow has strongly objected to the proposed deployment of the shield in Central Europe as a national security threat and a destabilizing factor for Europe, and has long been concerned about the further eastward expansion of NATO.

Russia's concerns increased March 1, when a senior Pentagon official said Washington "would like to station a radar base in the Caucasus." The announcement evoked suspicions in Moscow that NATO-oriented Georgia could be a possible site. Georgian officials have denied the possibility.

A NATO official reiterated last week that the U.S. initiative was not aimed at Russia, and that bilateral missile defense projects were common practice among NATO members.

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