GETTING READY FOR MEETING OF PRESIDENTS

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IT IS STILL POSSIBLE FOR MOSCOW AND WASHINGTON TO REACH AN AGREEMENT ON MISSILE DEFENSE

Russian and US experts discuss national missile defense and global security in Washington.


Russian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak began the second round of consultations in the American capital, yesterday. Agenda of the consultations is centered around Washington’s plans to install elements of the US national missile defense in Europe and includes other global security issues. The American expert group is headed by Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Rood. Acting Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Daniel Fried is also present at the consultations.

The Russian-US meeting is taking place bare days after the negotiations between defense and foreign ministers of the two countries in Moscow. Observers comment on the clearly increased diplomatic activeness.

Official Moscow studied the American proposals. They concern presence of Russian officers at objects in the Czech Republic and Poland with these government’s consent and fixing the radar in such a manner as to make it blind to the territory of Russia. In fact, the Americans may even store killer missiles away from silos in Poland pending appearance of a genuine threat posed by a third country.

Sean McCormack of the US Department of State said before the consultations that US and Russian experts were meeting to work out “transparency measures”. Washington insists at the same time that all US-Russian agreement should be acceptable to and okayed by the governments of the Czech Republic and Poland. These two European countries meanwhile are quite wary and suspicious of the Kremlin.

Press Service of the Czech Foreign Ministry announced the other day that the Czech-US accord on construction of the radar might be signed on May 5. “The US military base here is not going to be an exterritorial object. Poland will be its owner,” Minister of National Defense Bogdan Klich. “As a matter of fact, we do not perceive permanent presence of representatives of the Russian Federation there.” In short, Klich suggested “inspections from time to time” and only on the “mutual basis”. Needless to say, this latter implies Polish inspectors at objects of the Russian missile defense which is not something Moscow will be inclined to agree with.

Alexander Konovalov, President of the Institute of Strategic Estimates, believes nevertheless that a Russian-US missile defense agreement is a possibility. “A compromise may come down to the following,” Konovalov said. “The Americans do not bring their killer missiles to Poland and agree to joint control over the US-Russian integrated radar framework. Russia in return agrees to joint design, development, and use of strategic and tactical missile defense systems and integrates its southern radars into them.”

A compromise on so serious a matter will elevate the Russian-US relations to a wholly new level of cooperation in the sphere of global security. “Merger of all elements of Russian and US missile defense systems into a single chain will solve all problems and allay all suspicions,” Konovalov said.

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