Bush ‘cautiously optimistic’ over Russia-US missile talks

March 21st, 2008 - 3:59 pm ICT by admin  

RIA Novosti
Washington, March 21 (RIA Novosti) US President George W. Bush has said he hopes an agreement could be reached with Russia on Washington’s missile defence plans for Central Europe. “I’m cautiously optimistic. I don’t know whether we can find common ground, but we’re trying to find one. And the first step is to make the attempt,” Bush said in an interview with Radio Farda, a Persian language radio station based in Prague and Washington.

Bush reiterated that the missile defence elements planned to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, which Moscow views as a threat to its security, “would not be aimed at Russia”, but were designed to counter possible attacks from ‘rogue states’ such as Iran.

“We intend to move forward with the Czech Republic and Poland for the good of NATO. Obviously it’d make life easier if the Russians and the US cooperated in such a missile defence,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Russian and US foreign and defence ministers discussed the issue in Moscow, but failed to reach an agreement.

The US proposed a series of confidence building measures to Russia, in particular allowing Moscow to monitor the US missile defence bases in Central Europe.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the new proposals “useful and important”. He said Moscow managed to make the Americans “acknowledge that our concerns are not unfounded”.

Russia earlier proposed its radar stations at Gabala in Azerbaijan, and Armavir in south Russia, as alternatives to the US plans.
RIA Novosti

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