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Poland ready to talk missile shield with Russia, the U.S.

RIA Novosti

07/04/2008 09:25 WARSAW, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Warsaw is ready to hold talks with Russia and Washington on the proposed U.S. anti-missile shield if it is deployed in Poland, the deputy foreign minister said.

At a meeting on Sunday in south Russia, U.S. President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin once again failed to overcome their differences on the U.S. missile defense, but agreed to continue negotiations.

"We appreciate that Russia wants to hold talks on the possible deployment of the U.S. missile shield in Poland," Witold Waszczykowski said, adding that Warsaw "is also ready to discuss the issue."

Waszczykowski reiterated that the issue of Russian military personnel having permanent access to the site was "out of the question," adding that it had happened in the past and it would not solve the problem in the future.

Russia views a planned U.S. missile base in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a direct threat to its security and has rejected Washington's assurances that they were designed as protection against Iran and other Middle East states.

At a press conference after the meeting between the two heads of state, Putin said that although the missile shield was still "one of the most difficult issues" between the two sides, but noted that there had been "some positive progress" during the talks.

Bush in turn stressed that the missile shield will be purely defensive and said "obviously we've got a lot of work to do to convince the experts that the system is not aimed at Russia... the vision about having a global system is something I strongly support."

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