Thursday, November 22, 2007

Russian liaison officers to be posted at US missile sites

WASHINGTON, USA (November 22.2007) - The US sent Russia a formal proposal for cooperation on missile defense in Eastern Europe yesterday. A proposal aimed at discouraging Russia from withdrawing from a vital European arms control treaty was also sent.

The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to discuss the documents on November 26.The missile defense proposal included offers Rice and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made during talks in Moscow in October of this year.

The offers include allowing Russian experts to regularly inspect the U.S. missile defense site in Poland (contingent on Poland's approval); integrating the U.S., NATO and Russian missile defense systems to expand protection; and delaying the activation of the U.S. missile defense system.

Russian concerns about US plans to base missile defences in eastern Europe are being heard by Washington, President Vladimir Putin said today.

"I talked about this with President Bush on the phone the other day," Putin told journalists.

"It seems that our concerns are being listened to" in Washington, he said.

The Russian leader recalled that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates had made "certain offers" on the missile defence plan when they visited Moscow last month.

The U.S. officials have said those offers included delaying activation of the system until Washington and Moscow agreed on "definitive proof" of missile threats, as well as posting Russian liaison officers at the US missile sites.

Russian experts will make regular inspections of the U.S. missile site in Poland and in the Czech Republic. The U.S. officials have emphasized that the offer is contingent on approval from Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier today that Moscow had received Washington's missile defense proposals in writing and was studying them.

"The American side late yesterday evening finally handed to Russia written proposals on missile defence. We are studying them," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.

The U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to discuss the proposals Monday ahead of the Annapolis conference.

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