WASHINGTON, March 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russian and US defense chiefs during a phone conversation on Monday agreed to resume missile defense talks at the deputy minister level, the office of the Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement.
According to the readout of the conversation between Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, posted on the department’s official website, the Russian minister “expressed his desire to reconvene missile defense discussions with the U.S. at the deputy minister level” during the phone
“Secretary Hagel agreed and reiterated that this is an important part of U.S.-Russian relations. He assured Minister Shoigu that these discussions would continue and be carried forward by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Jim Miller,” the statement reads.
Russia and NATO initially agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile defense system at the Lisbon summit in November 2010. Further talks between Moscow and the alliance have foundered over NATO’s refusal to grant Russia legal guarantees that the system would not be aimed against Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.
NATO and the United States insist the shield is designed to defend NATO members against missiles from emerging threat nations like North Korea and Iran, and would not be directed at Russia. The alliance has vowed to continue developing and deploying its missile defenses, regardless of the status of missile defense cooperation with Russia.