Russia could join missile shield, says Clinton

March 6th, 2009 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, March 6 (DPA) Russia could join a controversial US plan to deploy missile-defence systems in Europe which has provoked outrage in Moscow, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday just hours before a meeting with her Russian counterpart.
“We believe that Russia and the US have the opportunity to cooperate on missile defence - on joint research, joint development, and even eventually, assuming we can reach such an agreement, joint deployment,” Clinton said after talks with European Union (EU) officials in Brussels.

The former first lady was set to leave Brussels immediately after the meeting and fly to Geneva, where she was scheduled to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The plan to set up a missile-defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic, drawn up by former president George W. Bush, has been perceived by Russia as a threat to the country’s nuclear deterrent.

But Clinton insisted that it was designed to counter potential attacks from smaller states, such as Iran, which could develop weapons of mass destruction.

She also said that the system will only be deployed if it is “proven to work and cost-effective”.

The talks with Lavrov will also deal with broader questions of disarmament as the two sides face the expiry of their main nuclear weapons limitation treaty, START-I, at the end of the year, Clinton said.

On Thursday, NATO foreign ministers, including Clinton, decided to re-open formal ties with Russia in what analysts saw as a push to boost cooperation with Moscow on key issues such as disarmament.

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