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4 Mar, 2009 01:20

Russia will not peddle Iran away for missile defence – Medvedev

Foreign policy exchange to solve the problem of deployment of the US AMD system in Eastern Europe is counter-productive and unacceptable, said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during his official visit to Spain.

At a joint media briefing with the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Russian president denied receiving any offer of a trade-off of the Iranian nuclear problem in exchange for the cancellation of deployment of American anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe.

Medvedev also labelled any kinds of trade-offs in foreign relations as counter-productive. The Russian president also said that Moscow is encouraged by the positive signals from Washington.

Thus, Medvedev commented on earlier media speculation about entering into correspondence with the US president on the matter of American missile-defence in Europe.

“If the new US administration manifests common sense and proposes a new alternative plan that would satisfy all Europeans and Washington, and would be acceptable to our country, we are ready to discuss it,” Medvedev stated.

“It should be a global defence system, not a fragment located near the Russian border. The signals we are getting from Washington show they are ready to talk about it. And there are no trade-offs concerning Iran's nuclear programme. We have been working very closely with the US on this issue,” he added, speaking at the media converence.

On his part US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he didn’t propose any trade-off deals involving the AMD system in Europe and Iranian nuclear ambitions to Medvedev.

“What I said in the letter is what I have said publicly, which is that the missile defence that we have talked about deploying is directed toward, not Russia, but Iran,” he said.

He added that if Iran’s commitment to nuclear weapons was lessened, it would lower the pressure to build an anti-missile shield.

Earlier this week Russian newspaper Kommersant Daily and The New York Times reported that about three weeks ago Obama had sent a letter to Medvedev.

Obama allegedly expressed the opinion that the US could possibly halt deployment of missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in return for Moscow helping Washington to block the Iranians’ nuclear programme and prevent them from developing nuclear weapons.

However, both sides have said that no such trade-off proposal had been exchanged.

Spain and Russia: strategic partners

President Medvedev is coming to the end of his two-day visit to Spain. He's signed a deal which will provide Spain with gas from the Russian Far East, and an agreement allowing Spanish military supplies to travel via Russia to Afghanistan.

Also, the two countries have signed a declaration on strategic partnership in all spheres of relations, including political, economic, cultural, scientific, technical and educational sectors.

“The parties have reached an agreement to improve the mechanism of broad and regular interstate consultations and agree that the Russian president and the Spanish prime minister will meet at least once a year to give impetus to the entire spectrum of relations that make up the strategic partnership,” the document reads.

The two parties have also confirmed their joint co-operation on counter-terrorism, the fight against organised crime and drug-trafficking.