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U.S., Russian MPs to discuss missile defense in Europe

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russian parliamentarians and U.S. congressmen will discuss plans to deploy elements of a U.S. missile defense system in Romania and Bulgaria, a senior Russian MP said Tuesday.

A high-ranking U.S. diplomat said Friday the United States was holding informal talks with Bulgaria on hosting elements of a U.S. missile shield on its soil. Two weeks ago, Romania announced that it would host interceptor missiles as part of a U.S. missile defense system.

"Next week, members of the State Duma International Affairs Committee will travel to Washington for the fifth joint session with Congressmen, members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee," committee head Konstantin Kosachyov said in an interview with the Rossia24 TV channel.

He said the topic of the discussion - the deployment of missile defense elements in Europe - had come up rather unexpectedly for Russia.

"This refers not only to Romania but probably also to Bulgaria and some other countries in the south of Europe," he said, adding that the U.S. plans were out of sync with the logic of Russian-U.S. relations.

"The most deplorable part is that these plans do not fit into the well-known program of resetting Russian-U.S. relations," the MP said.

He said experts were currently studying the recent U.S. moves to see how dangerous they could be to Russia.

"Furthermore, it is essential to receive a rational explanation from the Americans," he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick indicated that discussions were in the very early stages and that so far the United States was only prepared to hold consultations with the Bulgarian government.

Warlick also said America would not want to make Bulgaria choose between Washington and Moscow, and that both the United States and Bulgaria would like to see a prosperous Russia as a friendly partner.

A U.S. State Department official said previously the facilities in Romania are to become operational by 2015 and are designed as protection against "current and emerging ballistic missile threats from Iran."

The planned deployment in Romania comes after U.S. President Barack Obama scrapped plans for a radar and interceptor missile system in the Czech Republic and Poland, which Russia fiercely opposed as a national security threat. Moscow threatened retaliatory measures.

On Monday, Moldova's unrecognized republic of Transdnestr offered to deploy Russian missile defense elements. Transdnestr leader Igor Smirnov was quoted by media that his republic would deploy elements of a Russian missile defense system to counter U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Romania if Moscow asked.

Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said Tuesday Transdnestr's move to deploy Russian Iskander missiles could lead to a serious regional conflict, and added that there could be no talk yet of bilateral efforts to "reset" Russian-U.S. relations if Moscow continues to hear the United States' plans to deploy missiles in Romania from mass media.

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