Russia refuses to back down on U.S. missile shield, CFE
12/10/2007 16:59 (Adds details, background in paras 2, 4-8)
MOSCOW, October 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia refuses to change its position on U.S. plans to deploy missile defense elements in Europe and demands on an arms reduction treaty, a senior Defense Ministry official said on Friday.
Top Russian and U.S. defense officials and diplomats are currently engaged in talks in Moscow to address global security issues, Washington's plans to deploy a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, and Russia's moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty.
"We will not back down at all, because our position is crystal clear both on missile defense and the CFE treaty," Lieutenant-General Yevgeny Buzhinsky said during a break in Russia-U.S. ministerial consultations in the so-called "two-plus-two" format.
Moscow strongly opposes the U.S. missile shield plans, considering them a threat to its national security. Washington has insisted the missile shield is intended to stave off the threat of attacks from "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared in July a moratorium on the CFE Treaty, which limits Russian and NATO conventional forces and heavy weaponry from the Atlantic to the Urals. No NATO countries have ratified the treaty's amended version, and the moratorium is to come into force later this year if Western countries do not ratify the document.
Moscow considers the original CFE Treaty, signed in 1990 by 30 countries to reduce conventional military forces on the continent, to be outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion.
Before the start of bilateral consultations, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that although Russia and the United States have differences in their approaches to global security issues, Moscow hopes to make progress on the most controversial of these through constructive dialogue.
"We want to bring our positions closer together," the Russian minister said. The consultations will run until Saturday.
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