Lavrov hails US offer for Russian monitors at missile defence sites
(dpa) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed a US proposal to allow Russian monitors at the planned missile-defence sites in Eastern Europe that Russia views as threat, Russian news reports said Thursday.
"The US side is ready to submit an entire package of confidence- building measures to convince us that this system is not directed at us," Lavrov was quoted as saying in an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestia published Thursday.
A letter from Washington following Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit with Lavrov in Moscow, he said, clarified that an earlier proposal to allow for Russian monitoring of the bases went beyond suggesting a diplomatic presence.
"We will have the possibility to watch what the radar is doing and in what actual state of readiness the base's interceptor missiles stand - both with the help of a human factor and by technical means," Lavrov detailed.
The United States had earlier offered to allow for greater transparency through cooperation with Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as well as only activating the missile-defence bases given proof of an imminent threat from Iran or other "rogue" states from which the US says the base is designed to protect.
Russia rejects as a threat to its national security the positioning of a radar and missile interceptor system in the neighbouring states of Poland and the Czech Republic.
But Lavrov hailed as a breakthrough the US proposal: "The United States has finally recognized that our concerns are not groundless."
"It's not about intentions but the potential that matters in such things," Lavrov added in the Izvestia interview.
The Russian Foreign Minister confirmed on Thursday that the US summary received at the close of missile defence talks in Moscow this week was being studied in the greatest detail "to see to what extent it lessens the risk posed to Russia."