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RUSSIA

Moscow to Discuss U.S. Missile Shield With Warsaw

A Kremlin aide said Tuesday that consultations would be held with Poland early next year over Washington's plans to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.

"I am happy there will be discussions over the missile defense shield," the aide, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said at a news conference. He added that the talks would be held in Warsaw.
Washington wants to place interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic as part of a shield it says is designed to protect Europe from "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.

Russia believes that the shield is targeted against its missile arsenal and poses a threat to its national security.

Poland's new government said last month that it was ready to consult with Russia over its hosting of a U.S. missile shield, a reversal from the previous administration's stance to discuss the matter only with Washington.

"The previous government refused to talk to us," Yastrzhembsky said. "The information we will provide [to Poland] will help them to look at the problem in another way."

In Riga, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow wanted more concrete reasons from Washington as to why it is planning to build the shield.

Speaking after finalizing a border agreement with Latvia, Lavrov said written proposals from the U.S. side after meetings in October had lacked elements that had been verbally agreed on.

"We hope that the negotiations that we are carrying on would be conducted with mutual respect and not just limited to statements that [the shield] is not against Russia," he said.

(The Moscow Times 19.xii.07)

 
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