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9 Nov, 2008 05:04

U.S. hopes to soften Moscow missile stance

Officials in Moscow are considering new proposals received from Washington on the U.S. missile defence system in Eastern Europe. Discussions on these offerings, which include access for Russian monitors to the bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, are e

On November 6 the U.S. Under Secretary of Arms Control and International Security, John Rood, said his country had made a new offer to Moscow. It aimed to ease opposition to the planned American shield in Europe and contained proposals on finding a replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which expires at the end of 2009.

On Wednesday, President Medvedev announced Russia would install its advanced short-range Iskander missiles in the country's western-most region, Kaliningrad, in order to counter the U.S. anti-missile shield.

Rood said that Medvedev’s announcement was disappointing. However, a Moscow-Washington dialogue on the issue would continue. He said he was going to meet his Russian counterpart in about two weeks to discuss missile defence as well as other topics, including a U.S. proposal to further limit strategic nuclear weapons on both sides.

Moscow has repeatedly expressed its opposition to U.S. plans to deploy ten interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic, saying it would threaten Russia's national security.

In 2002, the Bush administration abandoned the Cold-War era anti-ballistic missile treaty. Some experts say that Barack Obama may decide to revisit the plans and cut spending on the shield, which may ease current tensions with Russia.

Poland, however, says the U.S. will continue its strategic partnership in placing elements of its anti-missile defence system in the eastern European country.

A statement from the Polish President and Prime Minister's offices say U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has already assured the country's leaders of his intentions. The press office announcement says Obama stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between Washington and Warsaw.

The president-elect also said America's plans to install parts of its AMD system on Poland's territory are still in force.

In August, the USA signed an anti-missile defence treaty in which Poland agreed to host U.S. interceptor missiles on its territory.