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Russia to respond if US reverses missile defense plans
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Russia could abandon its plans to deploy short-range missiles in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad if the new U.S. administration changes its missile defense plans, says President Dmitry Medvedev.

In his first state-of-the-nation address last week, Medvedev said Russia would deploy a short-range missile system in the Kaliningrad region bordering Poland and Lithuania, in response to U.S. plans to set up a missile shield in Central Europe.

"I think that this is a completely appropriate response. It is not we who began all of this," Medvedev said in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro published Thursday.

However, "we could reconsider this response if the new U.S. administration is ready to once again review and analyze all the consequences of its decisions to deploy the missiles and radar facilities," Medvedev said.

The Russian president said signals so far from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's transition team indicate Washington's willingness to consider a compromise on the issue.

"The first reaction we have seen from the incoming U.S. administration gives us grounds for hope... We are ready for talks, and at the same time we are also ready for the 'zero option'," he said.

"Moreover, we are ready to continue work on the idea of a global defense system in which the United States, the European Union member states, and the Russian Federation would all take part," he added.

In 2007, Washington proposed to establish an anti-ballistic missile shield in Central Europe, consisting of interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

Moscow has consistently expressed opposition to the missile shield, saying it threatens its national security. However, the United States insists the shield is designed to thwart missile attacks by what it calls "rogue states."

Washington said last Thursday it had offered Moscow new proposals on nuclear arms reductions and missile defense, while Russia indicated it will not address the proposals until Obama takes office in January.

The U.S. embassy in Moscow said Wednesday that Russia and the United States had agreed to resume talks on strategic security and missile defense in December.

(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2008)

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