US urges Russia to consider missile offer

The United States wants to boost cooperation with Russia on short- and medium-range missiles, a senior NATO diplomat said Monday, after Washington signalled a review of its missile shield plans.

“The administration is making a renewed offer, to say we would like to work with Russia on missile defence and we hope that Russia is more willing to discuss that,” the diplomat said, on condition of anonymity.

He said Washington “genuinely wants to work with Russia on missile defence, believes that these threats, particularly the short- and medium-range ones, already exist.”

“We have a common interest with Russia in figuring out how to protect populations against these, we should be exploring how to do that,” he said.

The United States has been negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic to install 10 missile interceptors, which would not carry explosive warheads, and a radar system on their territories.

The move has angered Russia as it sees the system as a threat to its security, while Washington argues the proposed shield is only directed at “rogue states,” primarily Iran.

Russia had threatened to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania, both NATO and EU members, if Washington did not halt its shield plans.

Laying out a vision of new US foreign policy Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden sought to reach out to Moscow, in a speech described by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov as positive.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Biden said the United States would only press ahead with its missile defence shield project “provided the technology is proven to work and cost effective.”

Nevertheless the NATO diplomat said President Barack Obama‘s administration was not shelving its plans, but that “it’s rather being prudent about the management of an expensive programme.”

“They want to take the time to do a review, to look at the test results, to make a judgement about the level of technological development,” he said.

AFP

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090209/p
l_afp/usmissilerussianato_20090209171848

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