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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 June 2007, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Russia warns US on missile plan
US missile test. File photo
Russia says there should be a common approach to threats
The US should halt moves to deploy a missile defence shield in central Europe, pending further talks, the Russian foreign minister has said.

Sergei Lavrov was speaking after President Bush made clear Poland and the US were committed to the plan.

Russia has proposed a radar station in Azerbaijan should be used instead of Polish and also Czech locations.

Mr Lavrov said US plans could "seriously complicate" talks on the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.

The United Nations imposed sanctions on Iran in March after it refused to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.

Putin's offer

"All work on deploying missile defence elements in Europe needs to be frozen, at least while this issue is being studied," said Mr Lavrov.

Mr Lavrov also said that America's stated intention of protecting against potential Iranian threat would anger Tehran by indicating that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, the Ria-Novosti news agency reported.

Mr Lavrov said that the US action would "put in doubt the justification, in the Iranian view, of its open and honest cooperation".

Mr Lavrov's comments come two days after a surprise offer to Washington by Russian President Vladimir Putin to jointly use a radar station in Azerbaijan, which borders Iran.

The offer was made by Mr Putin at a G8 summit in Germany.

US missile defence graphic

Mr Bush described the proposal as "interesting" and said US officials would study it.

But during a brief visit to Poland on Friday he made it clear that both countries were still planning to go ahead with the proposed European missile defence shield.

This has clearly angered the Russian government, says the BBC's Richard Galpin, and now it has pulled out one of its diplomatic trump cards, linking the issue with Iran.

Russia has strong links with Iran and has the power to veto UN Security Council resolutions calling for tougher action against Teheran.

It has repeatedly dismissed US claims its defence shield is only targeting so-called rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea.

In response, Moscow has said it may aim its missiles at Europe once more.

Map of radars and launch platforms




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Russia's foreign minister speaking to reporters



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