Russian president sees Obama flexible on missile defense
AFP - Monday, November 24
LIMA (AFP) - - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said he believed US president-elect Barack Obama could change Washington's position over a hotly contested plan for a US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.
Asked if he saw a chance of a shift on the issue under Obama, Medvedev told reporters on Sunday: "I think there are chances, because if the position of the current administration on this question looks extremely inflexible, the position of the president-elect looks more careful."
Striking a positive note about relations with the next US administration, Medvedev referred to the Obama team's refusal so far to establish its position on missile defense, after Poland claimed the matter was already decided and the project would go ahead.
"It shows at least our future American partners are thinking about this.
"They don't have a once-and-for-always prepared template for solving this problem.
"It means dialogue is possible.... A change of position is possible," Medvedev said.
The Russian leader was speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Lima, at which he met US President George W. Bush on Saturday.
Washington insists the proposed missile defense facilities to be established in the Czech Republic and Poland are directed purely at "rogue states" such as Iran and not against Russia's vast arsenal.
Medvedev earlier this month announced he would deploy Iskander missiles to the western exclave of Kaliningrad in response to the US plans, although he has indicated this could be reversed in the event of a US change of heart.
On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed Russia wanted a complete abandonment of the US plans and said US promises to ease Russian concerns had so far been empty.
"There has been no easing of our concerns," Lavrov told reporters, adding that Russia would set out its formal position at talks in December.
"Our concerns can only be removed by one thing -- the renunciation of plans for unilateral establishment of a missile defense system and an agreement to work together from scratch," he said.
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Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev at the APEC summit in Lima on November 23. Medvedev has said he believed US president-elect Barack Obama could change Washington's position over a hotly contested plan for a US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.
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