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Moscow seeks missile defense talks in Russia-NATO council

RIA Novosti

15/10/2007 17:07 MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday it wants U.S. plans to deploy components of its global missile defense system in Europe to be tabled for Russia-NATO Council discussions.

The statement comes following talks in Wiesbaden between the Russian and German foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as part of Russian-German consultations.

"The discussion of common European security issues in light of the planned deployment of U.S. missile shield components in Poland and the Czech Republic highlights the importance of the joint assessment of threats and challenges in the Russia-NATO Council in order to prepare collective measures to neutralize them without any damage to strategic stability," the Foreign Ministry said.

The United States announced in January plans to place missile interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic for defense from possible strikes from "rogue states," such as Iran and North Korea.

Moscow remains unconvinced by U.S. arguments, and considers the plans a threat to national stability as well as a destabilizing factor for Europe. President Putin has proposed that the U.S. use the Gabala radar which Russia leases in Azerbaijan instead.

The ministers also confirmed their commitment to overcoming a deadlock over amending the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which limits Russian and NATO conventional forces and heavy weaponry in Europe.

President Vladimir Putin declared in July a moratorium on the CFE Treaty, saying that no NATO countries have ratified the treaty's amended version. The Russian 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the original CFE Treaty, signed in 1990 by 30 countries to reduce conventional military forces on the continent, to be outdated, saying it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion.

"In this context, Russia has reaffirmed the importance of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe returning to its primary tasks regarding common European security, underlined by the lack of alternatives to the long-term reform of the organization," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The ministers also agreed that solutions to Iran's nuclear program, another key issue under discussion, must be based on political and diplomatic collective measures by six nations currently involved in talks with the Islamic Republic, plus the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council.

"As to Kosovo, efforts in the Russia-EU-U.S. format aimed at drafting a UN Security Council model that would satisfy both Belgrade and Pristina have also been supported," the document said.

The status of Serbia's predominately Albanian province of Kosovo is another bone of contention between Russia and the West, which has supported the region's drive for independence. Russia, a strong Serbian ally, has opposed an independent status for the province, saying it would set a dangerous precedent.



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