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Russia expecting new US missile defence proposals

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) March 1, 2009
Russia is awaiting new proposals from the United States to resolve a dispute on missile defence that has chilled ties between the two Cold War ex-foes, President Dmitry Medvedev was quoted Sunday as saying.

Medvedev's comments were among the most upbeat yet by Moscow on the chance of an improvement in ties under new US President Barack Obama after the missile defence row and Georgia war sent relations to a post-Soviet low.

Moscow has reacted furiously to plans by the former administration of George W. Bush to place missile defence facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying the move was directly aimed against Russia.

"I am counting on the new US administration behaving on this question in a more creative and friendly way," Medvedev said in an interview with Spanish media, the transcript of which was published on the Kremlin website.

"We have already received positive signals from our American colleagues. I am expecting that these signals will turn into concrete proposals," he added.

Medvedev said he hoped that this issue would be discussed in his first meeting with Obama, expected to take place on the sidelines of the meeting of G20 countries in London on April 2.

The Russian president had warned last year Russia would deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave wedged between NATO and EU members Poland and Lithuania, if Washington did not withdraw the missile shield plan.

The Bush administration said its plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic and install interceptor missiles in Poland were not directed against Russia but aimed at countering missile threats from states such as Iran.

"Russia does not like this, that is absolutely clear," said Medvedev.

He said it was undeniable that there were threats to international security in the world. "But let us react to these threats together, without isolating each other from these processes."

Medvedev complained that the Bush administration's attitude had been "very simple: 'We are doing this because we have decided it that way.'"

The Russian leader reiterated his call for a new trans-Atlantic security structure that would take account of the concerns of all countries involved in European security.

"The effectiveness of the OSCE is lower today than it was during the 'Cold War'," Medvedev said.

Russia was not opposed to discussing European security issues within the OSCE, he said. But he added: "I think, however, that the contours of a new system should be a little bit different."

Russian officials have repeatedly expressed optimism for the prospects for ties under Obama, although the new US president has yet to give much detail on his plans for Russia policies.

However a pattern could emerge in the near future, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to have her first face-to-face meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next week.

Russia's war in Georgia in August over the breakaway region of South Ossetia sent relations between Russia and the West plummeting to lows not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

US Vice President Joe Biden declared at a security conference last month it was time to "press the reset button" in relations and "revisit the many areas where we can and should work together."

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Obama vows to help troops, cut weapon programs
Washington (AFP) Feb 25, 2009
President Barack Obama said his upcoming budget would increase the number of US soldiers, state the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cut "Cold War-era" weapons programs.

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