Obama ready to drop shield plans for Russian help on Iran

March 2nd, 2009 - 10:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaMoscow, March 2 (RIA Novosti) US President Barack Obama has reportedly proposed to Russia to help resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis in exchange for Washington abandoning its missile shield plans for Europe, a media report said Monday.
Obama made the proposal in a letter to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, the Kommersant newspaper reported, citing unnamed White House sources.

Both the leaders have exchanged letters and had a telephonic conversation since Obama was sworn into office in January, the newspaper said.

The first high-level Russia-US meeting will take place later this week, when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Geneva.

Moscow has not yet responded to the proposal by Obama, the paper said, adding that a decision was unlikely to be made during Lavrov and Clinton’s meeting.

The issue is likely to be discussed when Obama and Medvedev will meet in London April 2 on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

In an interview Sunday with Spanish media, Medvedev said he hoped to discuss the issue of missile defence with Obama during the G20 summit in London. He also said he hoped the new US administration would display a “more creative approach” to the issue than its predecessors.

“We have received positive signals from our American colleagues. I expect those signals will turn into specific proposals,” Medvedev said, adding: “I hope to discuss the issue, which is extremely important for Europe, with U.S. President Barack Obama.”

The US and other Western nations suspect Iran of secretly seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Iran has denied and insisted that its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity.

Unlike his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama has stated a preference for diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on NBC television channel Sunday that the Islamic Republic was not close to building a nuclear bomb. “They’re not close to a stockpile, they’re not close to a weapon at this point, and so there is some time,” Gates said.

Gates also said that while more sanctions should be imposed against Iran, the door should not be closed to diplomacy.

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