Russia, U.S. to hold first round of talks on missile defense: FM
Russia and the United States will hold their first round of talks on missile defenses before an upcoming visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday, Xinhua reported.
The talks at the expert level will take place in Moscow, ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said at a press briefing.
Nesterenko said the Russian delegation will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, while the U.S. delegation will be led by Deputy Secretary of State Ellen Tausher, the Interfax news agency reported.
The spokesman also said that the results of the talks may be reported to Clinton, who will be in Russia Oct. 12-14, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when they attend a meeting in Moscow on Oct. 13.
Lavrov said Wednesday that a new U.S. missile defense plan poses less risk to Russia than did the original proposal, which was widely regarded as the latest positive Russian response to a U.S. revamping of its missile defense plans.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Sept. 17 that Washington would abandon a Bush-era missile defense shield program while initiating a "phased, adaptive approach" in Eastern Europe.
Under the new U.S. plan, land-based missile-defense shields will not be installed before 2015 and sea-based defenses will be operating in the Mediterranean up to 2015.
The Bush administration had planned to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield to protect its European allies from missile threats from "rogue states."
Russia strongly opposed the plans, saying they posed threats to its national security.
After Obama's announcement, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev officially declared scrapping plans to install short-range Iskander missiles in its western Kaliningrad enclave.
Medvedev also said Russia was ready to continue missile defense cooperation with the United States and Europe, describing the U.S. decision to overhaul its missile shield plans as "sensible."