Russia's FM Expects Success at Missile Talks With U.S.

Russia expects negotiations with the United States on the Pentagon's controversial plans to deploy missile defense elements in Central Europe to achieve results, Russian Foreign Minister said Monday in a speech, RIA-Novosti reported Monday.

Moscow strongly opposes the missile shield plans, which it considers a security threat, and has so far failed to persuade the U.S. to opt for alternatives.

Addressing students at the the Moscow State Institue of International Relations Monday at the start of the new semester, Sergei Lavrov said: "I expect Russia-U.S. and Russia-NATO consultations to produce results, and that the sides will come to an agreement. We would not want this to turn into another missed opportunity."

At the G8 summit in June, President Vladimir Putin offered the U.S. the use of a Russian-leased radar in Azerbaijan as compromise solution in the ongoing dispute. Three-way consultations between Russia, Azerbaijan, and the United States on the joint use of the Gabala radar are scheduled for September 15.

Lavrov also told the students: "the world needs an independent and competent Russia, capable of looking after itself, first and foremost. A Russia able to provide security, and make its contribution to resolving global problems."

The U.S. has said it wants to place ground-based interceptor missiles in north Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic to fend off what Washington sees as an impending missile threat from "rogue states," in particular Iran and North Korea.

The issue has proved divisive in both Central European countries, which joined the European Union three years ago.

The center-right Czech government backs the plan, but the opposition vehemently opposes the idea, along with the majority of Czechs. The Polish opposition, which is also against the plans, has been putting increasing pressure on Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose government has lost its parliamentary majority. The U.S. plans must receive the Polish legislature's backing before moving forward. Along with Czechs, most Poles are against deploying missile shield elements in their country.

Other news