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Russia, U.S. set to discuss missile defense in Washington

RIA Novosti

30/07/2007 09:19 MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russian and U.S. diplomats and military experts will start Monday two-day consultations on U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile shield in Europe and Moscow's alternative proposals.

The United States has announced plans to deploy the "third site" of its global missile defense system - the first two being in Alaska and California - ostensibly to fend off hypothetical attacks from Iran - in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Moscow has strongly opposed the U.S. move calling it a threat to national security, 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.

"Russia's proposals are an alternative, not an addition, to U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in Europe," Russian Foreign Ministry's spokesman Mikhail Kamynin reiterated in comments, posted on the ministry's Web site Sunday.

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

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% 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.

The Russian delegation at the upcoming talks is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak.

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