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Bush, Putin to discuss U.S. missile plans at Sydney APEC summit

RIA Novosti

04/09/2007 13:01 MOSCOW, September 4 (RIA Novosti) - George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin are to discuss U.S. plans for anti-missile technology in Europe at an September 8-9 Asia-Pacific leaders' summit in Sydney, a Russian presidential aide said Tuesday.

"We are not looking to settle the issue once and for all," Sergei Prikhodko commented on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) meetings. "We are seeking to stimulate dialogue on the topic, and to involve military and political experts in the talks."

The U.S has plans to deploy interceptor missiles in north Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic to fend off what Washington sees as an impending missile threat from "rogue states," such as Iran and North Korea. However, Russia has consistently rejected this reasoning, and views the plans as a threat to its own national security.

"It would be untactful and counterproductive to push the U.S into a corner on this," stated a Kremlin spokesman. "If any modifications to the plans are forthcoming, then they will undoubtedly be of a minor nature."

President Vladimir Putin, during his two-day meeting with President George W. Bush at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, in July, proposed incorporating a new radar, currently being built in southern Russia, into a missile defense system managed by the NATO-Russia Joint Permanent Council, of which Moscow and Washington are members.

Russia also said it is ready to upgrade its early warning radar in Gabala, Azerbaijan, which was also proposed as an alternative to U.S. missile plans, but Washington has repeatedly called it obsolete.

In one of the leaders' final face-to-face meetings before both men's presidential terms expire, President Bush and President Putin are also expected to discuss Kosovo and the situation in Iraq.

President Bush is also expected to use the 15th APEC summit to strengthen security ties between Australia and the U.S., and to announce plans to allow Australia access to high-level military technology, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Monday.

Anti-war protesters plan to hold several demonstrations in Sydney, including a 'Stop Bush 2007' rally hours before the U.S president's plane touches down in the country. 5000 police and troops are on standby in Sydney, and major roads have been closed to traffic.



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