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Bush calls Putin's missile shield statements harsh rhetoric

RIA Novosti

01/06/2007 22:01 WASHINGTON, June 1 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. President George W. Bush told German television that Russian leader Vladimir Putin's remarks about Washington's plans to deploy a missile shield in Europe were harsh rhetoric.

Russia has made no secret of its security concerns after the U.S. announced plans to deploy elements of its missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland as a defense against possible attacks from Iran or North Korea. Bush previously said the plans were not directed against Russia.

Putin said Thursday that Russia's new missile tests and threats to quit a European key arms control treaty were in response to the "absolutely harmful" missile defense plans, an apparent reference to the United States.

In an interview with the German TV channel ZDF, Bush said he expected to discuss the issue with Putin and ease his concerns during the Group of Eight summit in Germany next week and also during Putin's visit to the U.S. in July.

Bush said the missile shield was designed to defend U.S. allies in NATO, and proposed that Russia join the project too.

He promised the technologies would be completely transparent and invited Russian experts to visit the sites and talk to U.S. military. Bush reiterated that the missile shield was aimed at a "rogue state" that might obtain nuclear weapons.

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