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U.S. trying to ease Russian concerns on missile shield - Putin

RIA Novosti

18/10/2007 17:37

MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - Recent talks between Russia and the U.S. showed Washington is trying to reach a compromise with Moscow over plans to deploy missile shield elements in Europe, the Russian president said Thursday.

During recent missile talks in Moscow, the U.S. delegation proposed allowing Russian experts access to inspect its planned missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, and to use radars at Gabala and Armavir in addition to its European missile shield.

The radars at Gabala, in Azerbaijan, and Armavir, south Russia, were proposed by Moscow as an alternative to the deployment of a U.S. missile shield in Central Europe.

"Our recent contacts with American colleagues indicate that they are genuinely considering Russian proposals and looking for ways to resolve the issue," President Vladimir Putin said at an annual televised question-and-answer session.

However, Putin said Russia would take appropriate measures if the U.S. makes a unilateral decision on the issue.

"If a decision is made without taking Russia's opinion into account, then we will certainly take steps in response, to ensure the security of Russian citizens," he said.

The president said that it would be expedient if Russia, the U.S. and Europe met to discuss the necessity of the mooted missile shield and whether there was even a threat from Iran and North Korea.

"First of all we together with the Americans and Europeans should determine the nature of possible missile defense systems and understand whether there is a threat from Iran or North Korea, from terrorist organizations or if there is a threat [of missile strikes] at all," Putin said.

The U.S. announced plans in January to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as part of its missile shield, aimed at countering possible threats from so called rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. Moscow strongly opposes U.S. plans, considering them a threat to its national security.

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