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Medvedev says compromise with U.S. on missile shield possible

RIA Novosti

24/11/2008 12:20 LIMA, November 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed hope that the new Washington administration could abandon its plans to place elements of a U.S. missile shield in Central Europe.

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has yet to state his position on the George W. Bush administration's controversial plans to deploy a missile-tracking radar in the Czech Republic and a missile interceptor base in Poland.

After Barack Obama's U.S. presidential election victory, one of his foreign policy advisers said the president-elect was not committed to the missile shield, and would only continue with the project if its effectiveness was proven.

"There is a chance, because if the position of the current administration on this question seems extremely inflexible, the position of the president-elect looks more cautious," Medvedev told reporters at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Peru.

"It means dialogue is possible ... A change of position is possible," the Russian president added.

Moscow has fiercely opposed the planned deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic saying they will pose a threat to its security. Washington has said the bases are needed to counter possible strikes from "rogue" states like Iran.

The two countries have held a series of talks on the issue, but failed to reach a compromise.

The Russian president earlier threatened to deploy Iskander-M short-range missiles in the country's Kaliningrad exclave, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania, if the U.S. missile defense system was deployed in Central Europe.

However, Medvedev said in an interview with France's Figaro newspaper that Russia could "reconsider this response if the new U.S. administration is ready to once again review and analyze all the consequences of its decisions to deploy the missiles and radar facilities."

Washington said in early November it had provided new proposals to ease Russia's concerns over the planned European missile shield. New confidence-building steps, in particular, would allow Russian monitors access to missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russia called the new U.S. proposals "insufficient" and insisted that the U.S. abandon its missile shield plans in Europe altogether.

"There has been no easing of our concerns," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said reiterating Russia's position at a news conference in Lima on Sunday after talks with his U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice.

"We discussed the missile shield issue with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and agreed that...the consultations will be held in December," Lavrov said.

However, the Russian minister later reaffirmed Moscow's readiness to continue constructive dialogue with Washington on a wide range of issues involving national interests of both countries.

"We intend to continue our line of seeking further development of comprehensive and mutually beneficial Russian-U.S. relations," Lavrov told Peruvian newspaper El Comercio in an interview posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.

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