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Russia Downbeat Ahead Of NATO Talks

Igor Ivanov, head of the Russian national security council.
by Christopher Boian
Moscow (AFP) April 17, 2007
Russia said Tuesday it was "not optimistic" its concerns over a planned US missile defense system would be taken into account as the United States said it had new proposals for cooperating with Moscow on the scheme. "We hope, although I will say sincerely that I am not optimistic, that Washington will listen to our analyses and worries," Igor Ivanov, head of the Russian national security council, said ahead of Russian talks with NATO on the missile system in Brussels on Thursday.

"If Washington decides to follow its path without taking the concerns of Russia and other countries into account, we will analyse this situation from the perspective of the security of Russia and our allies and partners," Ivanov said at a news conference.

Ivanov's downbeat tone contrasted starkly with comments from a senior US official who held talks in Moscow on the missile defense plan with Russian political and military officials.

"We brought with us some new ideas for cooperation and made it clear that we were open to cooperation with Russia across a broad range of missile defense activities," US Assistant Secretary of State John Rood told AFP in a telephone interview after his meetings.

Rood declined to offer more detail on what the United States was proposing to Russia, which has made clear that it considers US plans to base elements of a new missile defense system in eastern Europe as a threat to Russian security.

The US ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Victoria Nuland, also stated last month that Washington was talking with Russia about areas of bilateral cooperation on missile defenses.

The United States has come under criticism, including from some NATO allies, for allegedly failing to address Russia's stated worries about the new missile system, though Washington says it has been discussing the plan with Moscow for years.

Rood admitted that the controversial US plan was "clearly an area where we need further conversation between our two governments".

The United States is in talks with Poland on stationing 10 interceptor missiles in that country and plans soon to begin formal negotiations with the Czech Republic on basing a radar for the system there.

Washington has said that the new system is needed to defend the United States and some European allies against future ballistic missile threats from "rogue states" like Iran.

Another senior Russian diplomat, Alexander Grushko, said separately that Russia intended to have serious talks with NATO countries by the end of the month on the US missile defense scheme and the enlargement of the Atlantic alliance into eastern Europe.

"We are counting on a deep and serious discussion in Oslo concerning all aspects of the relationship between Russia and NATO, Grushko said in an interview with Interfax news agency.

Russia has been invited to attend a scheduled meeting of NATO defense ministers in the Norwegian capital on April 26 and 27.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Royal Navy's Shame
Washington (UPI) April 13, 2007
The row over maritime boundaries in the Shatt-al-Arab between Iran and Britain seems to be over, with the British sailors and marines released and returned home. I continue to suspect a deal was made regarding the five Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers held by the United States in Iraq. If they go home in a few weeks or months, it will be a quid pro quo, regardless of how much Washington and London deny it.

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