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NATO Chief Proposes Linking with Russian Missile Defense

By VOA News

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has proposed a new partnership with Russia, including joint work on missile defense.

Speaking in Brussels Friday, Rasmussen called for a "joint review" of the security challenges of the 21st century. He said Russia should be a "real stakeholder" and "partner" in European and international security.

Rasmussen said Russia, NATO, and the U.S. should look into linking missile defense systems "at an appropriate time."

Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin called Rasmussen's remarks "very positive and very constructive," and he says the sides should together analyze various proposals.

Relations between Russia and the West warmed after the breakup of the Soviet Union. But they grew tense again in the last year as Russia stepped up influence over former communist countries in Eastern Europe and sent its troops sweeping into Georgia.

The speech by Rasmussen signals a new approach to Russian-Western relations.

While pushing for a new relationship with Russia, he also urged Moscow to join the West in putting "maximum pressure" on Iran to end its nuclear aspirations.

Putin Lauds Obama for Scrapping Missile Defense System in Europe

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to scrap plans for a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic is "correct and brave."

In televised remarks Friday, Mr. Putin said he hopes other measures that would improve ties will follow.

President Obama announced Thursday that he is dispensing with the plans for a missile defense system for central Europe in favor of what he calls a new approach for defending the United States and its NATO allies.

He said the new approach will provide "stronger, smarter and swifter defenses" and employ "proven and cost effective" capabilities.

The U.S. Defense Department says the new system will involve sensors and interceptors in northern and southern Europe as well as missiles on ships.

Russia had fiercely opposed the earlier planned system as a threat to its security.

Mr. Obama said the change follows a new assessment of Iran's missile program. The missile defense system planned for central Europe was supposed to counter an attack from Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But the White House says the Iranian ICBM threat is developing more slowly than previously thought, while the threat from Iranian short and medium-range missiles is developing faster than projected.

U.S. Republican Senator John McCain calls the change "seriously misguided." He said the decision is a step backwards at a time when eastern European countries are increasingly wary of what he calls "renewed Russian adventurism."

Some Czech and Polish officials said the development will not endanger the security of their countries. But others, such as former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose government negotiated the missile deployment accord, said the decision threatens Czech security.

Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorsky called the timing of the announcement clumsy, noting that it came on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of his country during World War Two.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush first proposed building a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic in 2006. Russia immediately condemned the move and threatened to place its own missiles on the European Union borders if Washington carried out its plans.

Some information for these report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 09/18/09 ... --

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