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Russian Offer Of Joint Missile Base Startles US

Putin argues that the Azerbaijan-based system would cover all of Europe rather than just parts of it and that any missile debris would fall in the ocean rather than on land in Europe.

Calm down on missile defence, Bush tells Russia
Heiligendamm, Germany (AFP) Jun 07 - Russia should calm down over US plans to deploy a missile defence system in central Europe, President George W. Bush said Thursday ahead of a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The plan is "not something we should hyperventilate about," Bush said after brief talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit. Russia has been infuriated by the US idea to deploy an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic, two former Soviet bloc states that are now part of NATO and the European Union. Russia says it believes it is the sole target of the system while Washington insists the defence is only to guard against an attack by unfriendly states such as North Korea or Iran. Bush said he was "looking forward" to his talks with Putin later Thursday and would use the meeting to answer Moscow's concerns over the missile shield. "I will explain to him once again that a missile defence shield is aimed at a rogue regime that may try to hold Russia and or Europe hostage," Bush said. "It is important for Russia and Russians to understand that I believe the Cold War ended, that Russia is not an enemy of the United States, that there's a lot of areas where we can work together," Bush said. On Wednesday the Kremlin said it would mount a "totally effective" response to any deployment of a US anti-missile system, with one of the options being to resume Cold War-era targeting of nuclear weapons at European cities.

Azerbaijan's Gabala radar station: key facts
Baku (AFP) Jun 07 - The radar station that Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed for use in a common missile defence system with the United States on Thursday is located in the Caucasus state of Azerbaijan.

Here are key facts about the station:
+ The giant Gabala radar station is located in mountainous northern Azerbaijan, an ex-Soviet state located between Russia and Iran. Sixteen stories high, it has a range of 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles), enabling it to monitor the Middle East, Far East and part of Africa, according to Sergei Ivanov, speaking when he was Russian defence minister in January 2006.
+ The radar came into operation in 1984 as part of the Soviet Union's anti-missile early warning system.
+ Russia operates the station, paying seven million dollars (5.2 million euros) a year under a 10-year lease signed in 2002.
+ Under the lease, Russia shares some information from the station with Azerbaijan.
+ The station has periodically been a subject of controversy.
+ In February Azerbaijan threatened to revoke Russia's lease, amid a dispute over natural gas exports. Environmentalists have also voiced worries about the station's impact.

by Laurent Lozano
Heiligendamm, Germany (AFP) Jun 07, 2007
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday offered to set up a joint Russian-US anti-missile base to end a crisis between the two countries as Group of Eight leaders agreed a face-saving compromise on climate change. Putin made the startling proposal for a joint base in Azerbaijan during talks with US President George W. Bush aimed at rescuing bilateral relations from a post-Cold War low.

The two met on the sidelines of the G8 summit in the German resort of Heiligendamm where police arrested another 305 demonstrators and police vessels chased two Greenpeace boats that entered a maritime exclusion zone around the summit venue.

Russia angrily opposes a US proposal to set up a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic and Putin had threatened to aim Russian weapons at European targets if the US system was deployed.

Russia says it is the target of the shield. The United States insists the system is to guard against an attack by Iran or North Korea.

Putin said he spoke Wednesday to the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who had agreed that the Gabalin base there could be jointly used by Russia and the United States.

Bush's national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, said Bush had found the proposal "interesting" and wanted it referred to experts.

Outlining the plan with Bush at his side, Putin said: "We have an understanding of common threats but there are differences over the means for overcoming these threats."

The Russian leader said the US and Russian military would detect any long-range missile test by Iran and would then have up to five years to set up a joint base before there was any major threat.

He argued that the Azerbaijan-based system would cover all of Europe rather than just parts of it and that any missile debris would fall in the ocean rather than on land in Europe.

Bush told journalists that the two leaders would pursue their "strategic dialogue," at talks in the United States in early July.

"This is a serious issue," he commented.

Putin said locating the base in Azerbaijan would ease Russian concerns about a missile shield on its frontier in Europe.

"This will make it unnecessary for us to place our offensive complexes along the border with Europe," Putin said.

But Putin warned the United States not to go ahead with building the system in Europe while negotiations with Moscow take place.

G8 leaders meanwhile agreed to pursue major cuts to dangerous greenhouse gas pollution and seriously consider the goal of halving global emissions by 2050.

Summit host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said she was "very, very satisfied" with the agreement but acknowledged that the accord was a compromise that fell short of her hopes for a binding deal.

She said the accord gave impetus to negotiations beginning in Bali, Indonesia in December to find a successor to the UN-backed Kyoto Protocol on capping carbon emissions that expires in 2012.

"The very best we could achieve has been achieved," Merkel said. But environmental groups dismissed the pledge as hollow and blamed the United States for blocking mandatory limits on emissions.

The final text laid out the goal of "strong and early action" to stop global greenhouse gas emissions from rising.

This would be "followed by substantial global emissions reductions."

"In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed today involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050," the text said.

"We commit to achieving these goals and invite the major emerging economies to join us in this endeavour."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed the pledge as a "major, major step forward."

"The possibility is here therefore, for the first time, of getting a global deal on climate change with substantial cuts on emissions, with everyone in the deal, which is the only way that we're going to get the radical action on the climate that we need," he said.

Kosovo was also discussed at the summit and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a six month pause in international moves for the disputed Albanian province to become independent.

Meanwhile, protesters launched a two-pronged land and sea assault on the summit on Thursday and police fired water cannon and arrested 300 demonstrators.

Boats from Greenpeace entered a maritime exclusion zone around the gathering of rich nation leaders while anti-globalisation protesters on land tried to block roads around the summit venue.

About 100 protesters were arrested as they staged a sit-in on one road while 200 were taken into custody after police dragged protesters off another road and away from the security barrier near the summit venue.

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A Coalition Of Rogues Could Dent The Shield
Washington (UPI) June 06, 2007
If U.S. President George W. Bush follows through with his controversial plan to set up a defensive missile shield in two former Warsaw Pact countries, years from now historians will be asking which came first: the missile shield to protect Western allies from rogue states, or a coalition of rogue states assembled by Russia to counter the missile shield proposed by the United States?

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