U.S., Russia to continue missile defense talks in St. Petersburg

The United States and Russia will continue talks on the issue of a proposed European missile shield on August 11-12 in St. Petersburg, the U.S. Department of State said on Monday.

Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, will meet with chief Russian negotiator on the issue, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

“Tauscher is scheduled to meet with her Russian colleague Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. They will continue talks on missile defense cooperation,” a State Department official told RIA Novosti.

Russia and NATO have agreed at a Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010 to work on the missile shield but NATO wants it to be based on two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with full-scale interoperability.

Russia has retained staunch opposition to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.

Moscow demands legally binding guarantees that NATO missile defense systems will not be directed against it.

The European missile shield issue is widely considered a tester for the future of Russian-U.S. relations, especially in light with the upcoming general and presidential elections in both countries.

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