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13 Oct, 2009 17:10

Clinton: US and Russia to collaborate on missile defense

At a joint media conference with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Hillary Clinton stated that America would like to see the US and Russia collaborate closely on missile defense.

The US Secretary of State said that “we think it's in our mutual interest… we want to ensure that we answer every question asked by the Russian military or government… because we want to be as transparent as possible.”

The two diplomats discussed the recent decision by the Obama administration to shelve the Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe, as well as a possible path for further steps on the issue.
Sergey Lavrov noted that Russia would have to understand the essence of the new US policy on missile defense before discussing the possibility of cooperation with the US in that area.

“The new plans, which replaced the old US plans to deploy missile defense systems in Europe, were not common ideas of Russia and the US. Those plans were developed by experts from the Obama administration,” he explained.

“Of course, we want to know these plans in detail, what specifically is planned and how precisely the new policy and the envisioned four stages will evolve,” Lavrov added.

Hillary Clinton, in turn, confirmed the United States was interested in cooperation with Russia on missile defense: “We are very interested in working with Russia to develop cooperation, including a joint threat assessment and intensified efforts to establish a joint data exchange center, as our presidents agreed to in July, as a means of making missile defense a common enterprise against what we believe are increasingly common threats.”

New START on its way

Sergey Lavrov also spoke of “considerable progress” in elaborating the terms and conditions of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

“We have not only advanced a great deal [in a new START treaty], but we have also discussed certain questions that need to be coordinated and further adjusted,” informed Lavrov.

He also said that Russia and the US had agreed on operational procedures of the presidential Russian-American committee and its workgroups to complete talks according to schedule by December.

Russia and the US will continue to work hand-in-hand to secure the risks of the proliferation of missile technology worldwide.

“We have made an arrangement to conduct consultations. Let’s hope they will result in a mutual understanding of the work lying ahead and help us unite our efforts with Europeans partners and other interested states to analyze and secure missile technology proliferation risks,” underlined Sergey Lavrov.

The next big stage of the talks will take place in April 2010 when the US will host an International Nuclear Security Summit, which will be followed by a conference of member states of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May.

Lavrov acknowledged that Russia and the US do have difficulties due to different opinions on various questions, but the Russian side perceives this as an “objective reality”.

“Today’s talks are so valuable because our sides have expressed readiness to develop strategic dialogue in all spheres.”

Sergey Lavrov revealed that on October 7 an American Air Force transport carrier conducted a test transit flight over Russian territory to Afghanistan, thus becoming a symbol of new cooperation on Afghanistan between Russia and the US and passing the preparations on the Agreement on Military Transit into the final phase.

At the same time Hillary Clinton particularly stressed that recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is out of question for the US because of its close ties with Georgia.

Iran sanctions

As for the question of the Iranian nuclear programme and imposing tougher sanctions on this country the two sides reached a consensus which made it possible for Sergey Lavrov to say that the Russian and US positions on Iran coincide and the sides do not ask anything from each other.

“On Iran – we are not asking anything from each other, because it would be ridiculous to ask something on an issue in which our positions coincide,” he said.

“We want to resolve all issues connected with Iran's nuclear program in a way that the country is able to fully enjoy its rights as a non-nuclear member of the non-proliferation treaty… At the same time, the regime of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons should not be allowed to be violated,” Lavrov added.

Hillary Clinton agreed that the time for sanctions on Iran has not come yet. The US Secretary of State also pointed out, “Iran is entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, but it is not entitled to nuclear weapons, and Russia agrees with us on that.”

Clinton made it clear that the US “prefers to see Iran working closely with the international community, to fulfill its obligations on inspections, and to open the entire system so that there will be no doubt what they are doing.”

However, Clinton did note that under certain circumstances the sanctions may again appear on the agenda:

“We are aware that we might not be as successful as we need to be, so we have always looked at the potential of sanctions in the event that we are not successful, that we cannot assure ourselves and others that Iran has decided not to pursue nuclear weapons.”

Middle East solution

Speaking about the ways to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict, Sergey Lavrov announced that once the talks between the parties are resumed, the Russian Foreign Ministry will set the date for the Middle East peace conference that will take place in Moscow.

The Russian FM stressed that the decisions will be taken strictly according to international law and resolutions of the UN and will eventually lead to creating an independent and peaceful Palestinian state coexisting with Israel side-by-side.

“We believe that the key to such a decision is putting an end to the occupation of Arab lands that started in 1967 and a possible exchange of territories put in this context.”

Medvedev: “cooperation reaching a high level”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who met on Tuesday with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, says he is satisfied with the recent progress in Russo-American relations.

“Our cooperation with the new US administration is reaching a high level,” he said, following the meeting in the presidential residence in Barvikha outside Moscow.

Medvedev also referred to his summer meeting with US President Barack Obama and the decision to set up a presidential commission, Interfax reports. The Russian president noted that the commission had already started working in various fields.

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