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Russia's NATO envoy expects progress in missile shield talks by July

RIA Novosti

18:43 18/02/2011 SOCHI, February 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's permanent NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin said on Friday he expected progress in negotiations between Moscow and the alliance on the European missile shield issue by July.

The diplomat, whom President Dmitry Medvedev appointed chief missile defense negotiator with the military alliance earlier on Friday, said he saw his appointment as "a task to provide Russia's national security in conditions when the U.S. and NATO have begun the active phase of implementing a missile shield [project] in Europe."

"I hope that by this June, when a meeting of defense ministers of the Russia-NATO Council takes place, the Russian delegation would reach certain progress towards agreements with NATO under which the [missile shield] system does not put into question our strategic nuclear potential, which is the basis and guarantee of our sovereignty and independence," Rogozin said.

The 47-year-old diplomat and politician has been Russia's envoy to NATO since 2008.

Moscow insists on setting up a joint European missile defense network with NATO, while the alliance favors two separate systems that would exchange information. The sides have agreed to formulate terms for missile defense cooperation by June 2011.

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