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Russia, NATO to Discuss CFE, Missile Shield in Fall
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Russia and NATO member countries will hold talks this fall on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), in which Russia has announced to halt obligation, and on the US-proposed missile shield in Eastern Europe, officials said on Friday.

A Russian-US experts panel will hold its first meeting over the missile defense plans later this month, the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Igor Neverov, director of the Foreign Ministry's department of North America as saying.

"We expect that the whole range of problems in the missile defense field will be discussed, including cooperation proposals of both sides." he said.

Russia, strongly opposed to the US plan, has offered to share a radar base in Azerbaijan as part of the anti-ballistic missiles system, which consists of interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

Defense ministers from Russia and the United States are expected to discuss the experts' report this fall and find ways to settle the disputes.

On the CFE treaty, the Russian-NATO talks will involve "fundamental issues such as the ratification of the treaty by all NATO member-nations," and the change of military forces quota after the expansion of European Union, the Interfax news agency said, citing Anton Mazur, director of the Foreign Ministry's conventional weapons control department.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in the treaty last Saturday and Russia has urged for talks with NATO members before the decree becomes effective in 150 days.

The treaty aims to maintain military balance in Europe by setting limits on key categories of conventional military equipment for NATO countries and those of the rival Warsaw Pact.

It was signed in 1990 and an adapted treaty was agreed upon in 1999.

So far only Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have ratified the 1999 treaty. NATO countries have refused to do so, insisting that Russia must first fulfill the so-called "Istanbul obligations" -- withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and Georgia.

Russia had threatened several times to withdraw from the CFE when it was at odds with the United States over US plans to install a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.

(Xinhua News Agency July 21, 2007)

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