Monday, December 15, 2008

US, Russia to discuss missile shield in Moscow

US, Russia to discuss missile shield in Moscow

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Dec 12, 2008
US negotiator John Rood will visit Moscow next week to discuss a controversial US anti-missile shield and a successor to a nuclear arms reduction treaty, the State Department said Friday.
The State Department confirmed reports from Moscow that Rood, acting US under secretary of state for arms control and international security, will meet Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in the Russian capital on Monday.

Rood will lead a US interagency team of policy and technical experts to the talks with a Russian interagency delegation, it said in a statement.

The two sides will discuss "transparency and confidence-building measures regarding the proposed US missile defense deployments in Europe," according to the statement.

Rood said in November that Washington had sent new proposals to Russia that built on previous ones that would allow Russian authorities access to the missile shield sites.

The plans by the Bush administration envisage establishing rocket interceptors in Poland and a linked radar in the Czech Republic.

The United States insists the facilities are needed to protect against "rogue states" like Iran, but Moscow has portrayed them as a threat to its security.

The State Department said the two sides will also discuss "a follow-on agreement to the START Treaty, WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) proliferation, combating WMD terrorism, and other non-proliferation issues."

Rood said last month that the United States submitted to Russia its proposal for a "legally binding treaty" to replace the Cold War-era Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) when it expires in December 2009, Rood said.

He said the US proposal on START focused on limiting nuclear warheads, even though Russia wanted to open up the negotiations to limits on conventional forces and missile defense.

Ryabkov told Itar-Tass agency this week that "it is too early to forecast the results of this meeting... Everything depends on the new US administration's assessment of the subject."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged US president-elect Barack Obama last month to drop the planned missile shield.

Obama, who takes office on January 20, has yet to say whether he intends to continue the plan created by the outgoing administration of Republican President George W. Bush.

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