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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2008, 06:44 GMT
US 'reassures Russia on shield'
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, left, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, 18 March 2008
US and Russian officials met in Moscow earlier this week
The US has offered Russia assurances over parts of a missile shield it wants to deploy in Europe, the Russian foreign minister has said.

In an interview with the daily Izvestiya, Sergei Lavrov said the US had agreed to allow Moscow to monitor the missile protection system.

The comments came after high level bilateral discussions in Moscow.

Russia has opposed US plans to establish missile defence installations in two central European countries.

These currently include some interceptor missiles in Poland and an associated radar facility in the Czech Republic.

The US says these are needed to counter a potential threat from Iran, though Moscow fears they could be used against Russia.

Building trust

Mr Lavrov and other Russian officials have been discussing the issue with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Moscow this week.

"The American side is ready to offer us an entire series of trust-building measures so that we become convinced that their system isn't working against us," Mr Lavrov was quoted as saying on Izvestiya's website.

US missile defence graphic

"Its meaning is as follows: we will be able to see what the radar is doing and what the real condition of the interceptors' base is - involving both human factor and technical means."

The Russian foreign minister struck a cautiously positive note after the bilateral talks had failed to produce a visible breakthrough.

"The missile defence issue has been decided in Washington and our attitude to that is well-known: this step would further erode strategic stability in the world," Mr Lavrov said.

"At this stage we have managed to make the Americans acknowledge that our concerns aren't unfounded."

"They are continuing to persuade us that they have no intention to use these bases in Poland and the Czech Republic against us, but they have to accept our argument as well - in such things it's the potential and not intentions which matters."

Russia said earlier that it had received written proposals from the US.

Mr Lavrov had called verbal proposals of confidence-building measures outlined earlier in the week "pretty serious and interesting".

Vladimir Putin meets with George Bush

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