Russia has offered a concrete replacement for the US plan for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Instead, Moscow proposes joint usage of the Gabala radar station with the US or with both the US and Azerbaijan, the Russian defense minister's adviser Ilshat Baichurin said on Wednesday.
"Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said during today's meeting with Azeri counterpart Safar Abiyev that Russia is ready to operate the Gabala radar station in either bilateral and trilateral formats," Baichurin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Abiyev immediately confirmed that Azerbaijan would be ready to cooperate in such a plan, adding that the Gabala radar was on Azeri soil and that the country should be a party to Russia-US negotiations thereupon.
The proposal was initially floated by President Vladimir Putin on June 7 at the G8 summit, in a bid to end disputes over the US' controversial plan to install a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
President Bush described the idea as "interesting" and a bilateral working group has been formed to discuss cooperation in this area. However, no direct negotiations have started about the Gabala radar.
(Xinhua News Agency June 21, 2007)