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Russia, China denounce U.S. plans for global missile defense

RIA Novosti

23/05/2008 16:24 BEIJING, May 23 (RIA Novosti) - The presidents of Russia and China denounced in a joint statement on Friday U.S. moves to establish a global missile defense system, saying the plans threaten the global strategic balance.

The declaration is one of several signed after talks between Russia's Dmitry Medvedev and China's Hu Jintao in Beijing.

"The parties believe that the construction of a global missile defense system, including the deployment of such a system in some regions of the world... does not contribute to maintaining a strategic balance and stability, and runs counter to international efforts to control arms and non-proliferation," the declaration said.

The plans also weaken "confidence-building measures between countries and the consolidation of regional stability," the statement said.

Russia and China have taken a shared stance on many global issues in recent years, often opposing the position of the U.S.

The U.S.-proposed European part of the global missile defense shield will see the deployment of 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar site in the neighboring Czech Republic. Moscow is opposed to the plans, saying the shield would threaten Russia's national security.

The plans have proved the main bone of contention in relations between the U.S. and Russia, and were the focus of two meetings between the countries' top diplomats and defense chiefs last October and in March this year.

The Czech government approved the deployment of the missile defense system on its territory on Wednesday. The basic document still needs to be ratified by the country's parliament and signed by President Vaclav Klaus.

Prague and Washington are expected to sign two agreements on the deployment of a radar base in the Czech Republic. In addition to the missile defense treaty, the United States and the Czech Republic are to sign the SOFA treaty on the stationing of U.S. troops in the country.

Meanwhile, Poland is still negotiating terms and conditions with the United States. Warsaw wants the U.S. to assist in modernizing its Armed Forces in exchange for the deployment of the 10 missile interceptors.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives reduced funding for the project by 52%, approving a sum of $370.8 million. The Bush administration had originally requested $712 million in funding for the European component of the missile shield in 2009.

The U.S. Senate is due to consider the proposed missile defense bill in June.

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