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Russia, U.S. to hold at least 2 rounds of missile shield talks before Oct. reports

RIA Novosti

30/07/2007 15:34

MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said Monday that Russia and the United States will hold at least two rounds of talks on Washington's plans to deploy its missile shield in Central Europe before reports to the presidents are prepared in October.

Washington hosts the start of consultations Monday on the deployment of anti-missile system components in the Czech Republic and Poland, which Russia considers a threat to its security and a destabilizing factor for Europe.

"We have at least two or three such contacts planned before the results of consultations are submitted to the two countries' meeting of defense and foreign ministers," Sergei Lavrov said, adding that the meeting had been scheduled for early October, after which a report to the presidents would be prepared.

The U.S. announced its plans to deploy a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland in January in defense against a possible strike from "rogue states," such as Iran, whose controversial uranium enrichment program has consistently provoked Washington.

The two former Socialist countries could become the "third site" of the U.S. global missile defense system, the first two being in Alaska and California.

Moscow has strongly opposed the U.S. move and has repeatedly stated that the U.S. missile shield could be used to undermine its military capability. As an alternative, Russia has proposed that the U.S. use its Gabala radar in Azerbaijan, and a new radar in South Russia's Krasnodar Territory.

Meanwhile, Washington insists it will go ahead with its European shield plans while taking the Russian offer into consideration.

The spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mikhail Kamynin, said Sunday that Moscow would not make any concessions at the talks in Washington and its alternative proposals would only be effective if Washington abandoned its missile shield initiatives, including the deployment of a radar and interceptors in Europe, and offensive weapons in space.

According to recent polls carried out in the United States, 84% of respondents were in favor of deploying a missile defense system to protect U.S. territory. In July, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the 2008 defense budget approving the deployment of a global missile shield as part of U.S. state policy.

Some European NATO members have questioned whether it makes sense to have missile defenses on the continent that are controlled by the U.S., rather than NATO.

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