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Czech, US to Continue Talks with Russia on Missile Shield
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It is necessary to further communicate with Russia about the planned US radar base on Czech territory, Czech President Vaclav Klaus and US Ambassador Richard Graber agreed at a meeting on Monday.

Graber said it is necessary to carry on the talks with Moscow.

The US considers it important to explain to Moscow that the radar in Czech and the interceptors in Poland are not aimed against Russia, Graber said.

The planned system is to protect the US as well as Europe against the threats coming from the Middle East, he added.

Klaus assured his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that the Czech Republic is not in the least interested in the base, a planned part of the US missile shield, being aimed against Russia during his official visit to Russia in late April. Klaus and Putin emphasized that a further dialogue on the issue is necessary and Putin invited Czech experts to Russia to hear Moscow's arguments about the issue.

Also on Monday, US State Department Sean McCormack said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Russia next week for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the US plan to deploy missile defense system in East Europe.

"There are a lot of issues to talk about in the US-Russia strategic relation, spanning from nuclear nonproliferation to missile defense to the development of democracy in Russia," McCormack said.

Rice is expected to make new efforts to persuade Moscow to accept the missile defense system.

The United States has claimed the missile defense system is aimed against states and groups in the Middle East that are seeking weapons of mass destruction, not against Russia. Russia has repeatedly criticized the US proposal, saying that it will harm regional security situation and threatened to take counter measures.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Moscow last month to try to persuade Russia to accept the missile defense system. However, the visit failed to assuage Russian opposition to the US plan.

The United States suggested earlier this year that a missile shield be deployed in central Europe, including interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in Czech Republic.

(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2007)

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