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Russia, U.S. to hold missile shield talks in Washington in Nov.

RIA Novosti

08/11/2007 17:37 MOSCOW, November 8 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. missile defense plans for Europe will be discussed with Russia at a high-level meeting in Washington in November, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said on Thursday.

Igor Neverov, who heads the Foreign Ministry's North America department, said however that Washington had not yet provided Moscow with formal proposals on settling differences over its plans to deploy missile defense elements in the Czech Republic and Poland.

"We hope the United States will provide the proposals so that they can be discussed prior to the meeting," Neverov said, without giving a date for the talks.

The United States is planning to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield, to avert possible strikes from "rogue states," such as Iran and North Korea. Russia has objected, citing concerns over its national security.

Col.-Gen. Varfolomei Korobushin, first vice president of the Russian Military Sciences Academy, told a press conference at RIA Novosti on Thursday that Russian air defense systems would be able to intercept American missiles in the event of Moscow being attacked from the proposed U.S. missile defense base in Poland.

"While we have no data suggesting that the missile interceptors the U.S. plans to deploy in Poland are to be equipped with nuclear warheads. Russia would in any case have time to destroy them in the event of an attack on Moscow," he said.

A number of experts say it is a relatively simple operation to turn missile interceptors into offensive weapons by equipping them with warheads, nuclear or otherwise.

A high-ranking official from the Russian Defense Ministry's international military cooperation department said Moscow does not see any grounds for a hasty buildup of U.S. missile defense elements in Europe.

"It is unclear to us why such haste is necessary in drawing up plans to build the missile defense system. There are currently no grounds to carry out such expensive projects," Vladimir Yegorov told an international antimissile conference in Rome. North Korea and Iran are unlikely to create missiles to hit the territories of Europe or the U.S., he added.

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