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Russia sees hope for U.S. missile shield talks

RIA Novosti

08/12/2007 13:03 MOSCOW, December 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the U.S. still have a chance to reach an understanding on the issue of Washington's plans for a missile defense system in Central Europe, Russia's foreign minister said on Saturday.

"I believe we still have a chance to come to some kind of an understanding. We are willing, but for this to happen requires a parallel willingness on behalf of our American partners," Sergei Lavrov told journalists upon his return from Friday's Russia-NATO council meeting in Brussels.

He also added that Russia would "maintain its own position and continue its own analysis," on the proposed U.S. missile shield plans, and that the country would "clarify these to our partners".

The U.S. plans to deploy a radar in the Czech Republic and a missile defense base in Poland in order to counter missile strikes from what it labels "rogue states." Russia has said the move would threaten its national security, and has offered Washington the use of its radars in south Russia and Azerbaijan as an alternative.

Lavrov also said on Saturday that Russia welcomed the willingness of Poland's new foreign minister to continue discussions on the U.S. missile defense plans.

"I found it encouraging that the new Polish foreign minister, unlike his predecessor, who simply ignored our proposals to hold talks, himself spoke for holding consultations [on the U.S. missile defense plans]."

"Of course, this does not mean that Poland has changed its position, and decided to reject plans for a deployment of a missile interceptor base, but I can only welcome the fact that they want to listen to us," he added.

Russia-Polish relations have improved of late, following the victory of the center-right Civic Platform party in Polish parliamentary elections in October, and the approval of a new government in November.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk is due to visit Russia in February 2008, the visit set to become his first since becoming prime minister.


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