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Russia ready to discuss U.S. missile proposals - govt. spokesman

RIA Novosti

06/03/2009 17:15 MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is ready to discuss revised U.S. proposals for a controversial missile shield in Central Europe, as well as ways of dealing with other global problems, the Russian prime minister's spokesman said Friday.

"If the United States' original plan on deploying this shield in Europe is somehow reviewed or if we actually receive some concrete counteroffer from the U.S., which takes into account Moscow's interests, then we will view this as an excellent sign, as this is what we have been talking about from the very start," Dmitry Peskov told the Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia) radio.

The U.S. has cited Iran's controversial nuclear program as one of the reasons behind its plans to deploy a missile base in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic. The missile shield has been strongly opposed by Russia, which views it as a threat to its national security. The dispute has strained relations between the former Cold War rivals, already tense over a host of other differences.

The United States and other Western nations suspect Tehran of secretly seeking nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is purely aimed at generating electricity. However, unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama has stated a preference for using diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute.

Top Russian officials have repeatedly expressed their hope that Obama will not follow through with his predecessor's missile defense plans.

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