US stresses will to cooperate with Russia on missile shield
The United States wants to cooperate with Russia on setting up an European missile defence shield, a senior US official said Wednesday ahead of next month's NATO summit in Lisbon.
"It's absolutely clear we want to do this cooperatively with Russia," assistant US Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Philip Gordon told reporters Wednesday during a visit to Berlin.
"Russia faces the same potential threat as Europe," he said, adding that NATO's proposed policy did not aim to undermine Russia's own defence strategy.
Missile defence will be one of the key topics at the NATO summit which will be attended by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
NATO and the United States want to set up a missile shield to protect Europe against what they perceive is a growing threat of short and medium-range missiles launched from the Middle East, and more particularly from Iran.
The United States has "proposed resuming theatre missile defence exercises with Russia" as a way of boosting cooperation with Moscow on the subject, he said.
But "there are lots of different options on the table once Russia signals interest in participating," he added.
Asked about Medvedev's proposed new European security treaty, an idea first mooted last November, Gordon said that while the United States remained open to talks on the issue, "we don't believe a treaty is either necessary or practical".
Attempting to negotiate such a new treaty between some 50 countries would not be "the most practical use of our time," he said, adding "let's try to avoid theological questions and get on with practical projects".
Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told this week's edition of the German magazine Der Spiegel that Moscow was open to talks on the planned European missile shield but wanted an equal say in its development.
"The most important thing for us is firstly to define what are the real threats to Europe, and secondly to see Russia put on an equal footing as a participant," Serdyukov said.
"It is only in this way that an anti-missile defence system can be put in place which satisfies everyone."
Previous US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in former Soviet satellite states in eastern Europe angered the Kremlin.
© 2010 AFP