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25 Oct, 2007 09:17

Russia and NATO to thrash out pros & cons of anti-missile shield

U.S. plans to build an anti-missile shield in Europe will top the agenda of the meeting between Russian and NATO defence ministers in the Dutch town of Noordwijk. Russia and NATO are divided over the issue of an anti-missile shield in Europe.

The meeting is to be held on the sidelines of the alliance's conference.

Though Washington claims the shield is targeted against so called `rogue` states like Iran and North Korea, Moscow believes the U.S. has no right to place it so close to Russian borders and that it could be a threat to its own nuclear potential.

American officials have made numerous attempts to make Russia change its mind and have even invited Russia to join the anti-missile shield project.

U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates said the Eastern European elements of the shield will not be activated until Iran actually builds its nuclear capacity.

Moscow rejects these suggestions and opposes the shield outright.

Public opinion in Poland and the Czech Republic, where elements of the shield are to be installed, is very much divided over the issue.

The Czechs are not greatly in favour of the deployment of the American anti-missile shield in their country.

The new Polish government, soon to take power after the recent elections, is also not that supportive of the shield as the previous one was.

All this may affect the time-frame of the shield's construction as it's envisaged by the U.S.