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Obama Offers Russia Secret Missile Defense Deal

By VOA News

Senior officials in the Obama administration say President Barack Obama has offered Russia a deal involving a controversial plan by the U.S. to deploy a missile defense system.

The officials say Mr. Obama made the offer in a letter delivered early last month to his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev.

In the letter, the U.S. president offers to reconsider plans to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, in exchange for Moscow's help to stop Iran from developing long-range weapons. Russia has developed economic and military ties with Tehran, and has resisted the hardline U.S. stance against Iran.

Russia has yet to respond to Washington's overtures. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will discuss missile defense with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when they meet Saturday in Geneva.

Presidents Obama and Medvedev will meet in London April 2.

The missile defense plan angered Moscow when it was proposed by the Bush administration. Former President George W. Bush wanted the defense system, saying it was needed to deter Iran in case Tehran developed a nuclear warhead to fit on long-range missiles.

The Bush administration's plans included building a high-tech radar facility in the Czech Republic, and deploying 10 interceptor missiles in Poland - two nations that Russia once considered within its "sphere of influence." Mr. Bush rebuffed a Russian counter-proposal to install part of the system on its territory and jointly operate it.

Vice President Joe Biden has used the colloquial phrase "press the reset button" to describe the Obama administration's goal of reviving and renewing Washington's relations with Russia.

... Payvand News - 03/03/09 ... --

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