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No U.S. missile shield elements deployment in Russia - ministry

RIA Novosti

31/03/2007 13:24

MOSCOW, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry denied Saturday media reports that Russia proposed the United States to deploy elements of missile defense shield on its territory.

On Friday some West mass media sources reported that Russia had proposed the United States to deploy elements of missile defense shield on its territory if Washington refuses its plans for Central Europe.

"The reports do not correspond with reality and do not reflect Russia's stance on the [U.S.] missile shield issue," Mikhail Kamynin said.

Washington has announced its intention to deploy elements of its missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, citing possible threats from Iran or North Korea as a reason for the program, and will soon begin consultations with these countries.

On Wednesday, the Czech government confirmed that it will begin official talks with the U.S. on the deployment of the system on its territory. The negotiations which will start as soon as possible will last through to the end of 2007.

Russia sees the prospective deployment as a threat to its own national security, and fears the base may trigger a new arms race.

U.S. plans to deploy elements of the missile shield in Central Europe are expected to cost $1.6 billion over the next five years. The program will later be expanded to include sea-based missiles and space-based missile tracking systems.

On Wednesday U.S. and Russian Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin discussed the issue on the phone, with President Bush saying that his country was ready to discuss in detail U.S. plans.

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, also called Thursday for broader talks on the issue saying that EU states should be involved.

He said the EU is not a defense alliance or a decision-making platform for defense issues, but suggested it would be useful to think about and discuss the subject in an open and transparent manner.

He also said EU sovereignty should be in harmony with its security interests, and urged all EU countries to state their positions on the issue in the context of the union.

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