The United States on Wednesday reaffirmed its hope to collaborate with Russia on missile defense while saying it would in any case proceed with NATO on plans for building a missile shield in Europe, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, March 7).
"We've ... made it clear that we would love to cooperate on missile defense against mutual threats with Russia," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Obama administration's top diplomat underlined that NATO has already decided to move forward with missile defense. "We believe that it is in all of our interests to carry forward and implement that decision."
The Western military alliance in November 2010 decided to pursue a European ballistic missile shield that would augment and connect individual nations' antimissile programs. At the heart of the NATO effort is an Obama administration plan to through 2020 field increasingly advanced missile interceptors at bases in Poland and Romania and on battleships home ported in Spain. The alliance maintains the missile shield is aimed at defending against a feared attack from the Middle East, particularly Iran.
The former Cold War enemies agreed in 2010 to launch discussions on areas for possible antimissile cooperation but have been unable to resolve substantive differences around the issues of the structure and intent of the European shield. Russia says it suspects the U.S. interceptors would secretly be aimed at its long-range nuclear missiles and has demanded, to no avail, a binding assurance from Belgium and Washington on the matter.
"Thus far, we've not seen a lot of movement, but we are going to continue to press that with the Russians and hope that there will be an agreement at some point that could be in both of our interests," Clinton said in remarks to the press following talks with her Polish counterpart, Radoslaw Sikorski (RIA Novosti, March 7).
NATO announced on Thursday that Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen would before long hold face-to-face talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Associated Press reported.
Rasmussen and Putin, who has been re-elected to the Russian presidency, spoke by telephone this week. "It was a constructive conversation," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said. "Both [men] stressed that they're determined to continue cooperation and to meet bilaterally in the not-too-distant future."
The planned meeting would focus on the state of relations between the two military powers, which have worsened due to continuing disagreements over NATO missile defense plans (Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, March 8).
The United States on Wednesday reaffirmed its hope to collaborate with Russia on missile defense while saying it would in any case proceed with NATO on plans for building a missile shield in Europe, RIA Novosti reported.