U.S., Russia fail to overcome
missile shield differences
Friday, March 28, 2008
The United States and Russia made some progress on a strategic
framework agreement, but failed to settle differences on the disputed
missile defense plans for Europe during two days of talks in Washington.
"We made a lot of headway ... but there are still significant
issues that need to be resolved," acting U.S. Undersecretary
of State for Arms Control and International Security John Rood
said on Thursday following talks with the Russian delegation led
by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak.
The talks in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday were a follow
up to a visit to Moscow earlier this month by U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The
top officials brought proposals giving Russia access to monitor
the planned missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.
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The U.S. wants the framework agreement, which along with missile
defense covers other key bilateral issues, to be agreed on by
a meeting between President George W. Bush and President Vladimir
Putin in the latter's Black Sea residence on April 6.
Before the meeting in Sochi, both presidents are to attend a
NATO summit in Romania earlier in April. These meetings could
be their last as presidents, with Putin stepping down in May,
and Bush's term expiring next January.
U.S. plans to deploy missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech
Republic, Russia's former Soviet allies, have plunged relations
between Washington and Moscow to a post-Cold War low.
Washington says the defenses are needed to counter threats from
Iran and other 'rogue' states, but Moscow treats them as a direct
threat to its security.
On Thursday, Russia's foreign minister praised U.S. moves to
ease Russian missile shield concerns, but said giving up the idea
of opening new missile bases in Central Europe was the best way
of addressing Moscow's unease.
"Our position remains unaltered. The best way of addressing
concerns related to the third missile site [in Europe] is to drop
the plans, and switch to joint projects," Sergei Lavrov said.