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Russia, U.S. still disagree on missile shield - Russian defense min.

RIA Novosti

05:14 17/09/2010 WASHINGTON, September 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the U.S. still have some major disagreements on the missile defense issue, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Friday.

The planned placement of U.S. missile defense elements in Eastern Europe, close to the Russian borders, remains a bone of contention in bilateral relations.

"The principal disagreement is that they [the U.S.] tell us: "our missile defense program is not aimed against you," while we say: "no, according to our calculations it actually is," the minister said during his visit to the U.S.

He said the Russian side proposed the U.S. to jointly evaluate present missile threats.

"Let's analyze them together and find out where they come from. After that we will be able to decide on how to counteract these threats and is it really necessary to deploy missile defense elements in the regions where [the deployment] is currently planned. Maybe, some other locations are possible," Serdyukov said.

He said that Russia was interested in joining missile defense efforts in Europe.

"We indeed want to take the most active part in this project. As missile defense elements are being deployed on the territory of Europe, we should not be left aside," the minister added.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday that leaders of the 28 NATO countries should invite Russia to take part in a project to create a missile defense system in Europe and that the invitation should be made at November's NATO summit in Lisbon.

For discussions on the missile defense issue, Russia and the U.S. are setting up a system of cooperation to involve experts, chiefs of general staffs and defense ministers, similar to the one used while negotiating the new strategic arms reduction treaty.

Serdyukov said that all disagreements would initially be discussed at the expert level, and if the talks fail, chiefs of general staffs will meet for debates. If disagreements remain, the foreign ministers will consider the matter.

"If we [defense ministers] also fail, then the issue will be raised to the presidential level, where political decisions will be made," the minister added.

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