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Russia expects positive U.S. response to missile shield proposals

RIA Novosti

09/10/2007 14:03 (Adds quote in para 7, details, background in paras 2, 5-6, 8)

MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said on Tuesday he hoped that the U.S. response to Moscow's missile shield proposals would strengthen strategic stability and prevent new risks.

Top Russian and U.S. defense officials and diplomats are scheduled to meet in Moscow on October 12-13 to continue discussions on the deployment of elements of a U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe. The talks are expected to focus on Russia's proposal that the U.S. use its radars instead of deploying facilities in Europe.

"Consultations that we have held as part of preparations for a bilateral ministerial meeting showed that we have good arguments in support of this [missile defense] initiative," Sergei Lavrov said.

"We expect that this response will help us strengthen strategic stability instead of creating new risks in this sphere," the minister said.

Talks in Moscow are also expected to address the moratorium on the Soviet-era arms reduction CFE treaty Russia imposed in the wake of the dispute.

Russia strongly opposes Washington's plans, announced early this year, to place a missile interceptor base in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic, and considers them a threat to its national security. The United States claims it needs better protection from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.

"President Putin has proposed a constructive alternative [to U.S. plans], which if implemented could bring our relations in the sphere of strategic stability to a new level - a level of strategic partnership," Lavrov said.

He said that the upcoming talks would also cover the whole spectrum of issues in the sphere of Russian-U.S. relations and strategic stability, including further reductions of strategic arsenals after the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) expires on December 5, 2009.

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