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U.S. expects to continue missile defense dialogue with Russia - Clinton

RIA Novosti


WASHINGTON, April 6 (RIA Novosti) - The United States expects to continue missile defense dialogue with Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

Washington will be "working with them [Moscow] to try to find common ground around missile defense, which we are committed to pursuing," she said.

Clinton also said that the new arms reduction treaty that the U.S. and Russian leaders will sign in Prague on April 8 had no connection to Washington's missile defense plans.

"The START treaty is not about missile defense. It is about cutting the respective sizes of our arsenals, our strategic offensive weapons," Clinton said adding that Russian concerns over missile defense were "no surprise."

"We have persistently sought to explain to them [Russia] the purpose for missile defense, the role that we believe it can and should play in preventing proliferation and nuclear terrorism," she said.

Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov said earlier on Tuesday that Moscow may withdraw from the arms reduction treaty if Washington significantly increases its missile defense.

Russia and the United States have been negotiating a replacement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty since Medvedev and Obama met in April last year, but finalizing the document has dragged on, with U.S. plans for missile defense in Europe a particular sticking point.

In February, Bulgaria and Romania said they were in talks with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration on deploying elements of the U.S. missile shield on their territories from 2015.

The move came after Obama scrapped last September's plans by the Bush administration to deploy missile-defense elements in the Czech Republic and Poland due to a reassessment of the threat from Iran. Russia fiercely opposed the plans as a threat to its national security.

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