Moscow still opposes U.S. missile shield

Russia's Defence Minister says although Washington is starting to better understand Moscow's concerns over the proposed missile shield in Europe, Russia remains fundamentally opposed to the project.

Anatoly Serdyukov was speaking at a Russia-NATO council meeting in the Netherlands.

“The decisions made by the U.S. do not suit us and of course we stand by our own position.” Mr Serdyukov said.

“It seemed to me our American counterparts have started to understand our concerns and of course I’m glad about that,” he said.

Earlier, the U.S. offered to delay activating the bases until it had proof of a ballistic threat from Iran.

Speaking at a closing press conference, NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Russia was no longer so against the U.S. plans for an anti-missile system in Europe. 

He added that the talks had been conducted in a constructive atmosphere.

Anatoly Serdyukov said both sides would return to the issue in six months.

“On our 2 + 2 meetings, we decided that our experts will work together and we will return to the problem in six months.” he said.

The talks saw progress on other areas of co-operation between NATO and Russia. 

NATO forces are overstretched in Afghanistan, and have agreed to lease Russian helicopters for transport purposes in that arena.

There were also discussions on joint anti-drug action in Afghanistan.

However, disagreements remained on the stalled Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and on the final status of Kosovo.