The United States and Russia are currently in discussion over the issue of global missile defense, said U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle on Wednesday.
Beyrle told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that Washington and Moscow were discussing the possibility to involve Russia into a system of global missile defense, on which two rounds of negotiations have been held between experts from the two countries.
The diplomat also said the two sides are discussing measures to develop cooperation in this field, adding that their talks on strategic arms reduction were to conclude in the very near future.
In a late December visit to Russia's Far East, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia must develop offensive weapons systems to counter the U.S. missile shield plans.
Putin said Russia would provide more information about its offensive weapons in exchange for more information on the U.S. missile defense systems, and would link such a demand with the new nuclear arms control treaty.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced on September 17, 2009 to abandon the Bush-era missile defense shield program while initiating a "phased, adaptive approach" of the plan in Eastern Europe.
The Bush administration planned to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield to protect its European allies from missile threats from the so-called "rogue states."
Russia strongly opposed the measure, saying it poses threat to its security.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed Obama's announcement by officially declaring to scrap plans to install short-range Iskander missiles in its western Kaliningrad enclave.
However, Moscow's urge for Washington to further expound the new approach merely received lukewarm response.
NATO, Russian chiefs of staff to meet next week
NATO and Russian chiefs of staff will meet in Brussels on January 26 for the first time since the outbreak of war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, a spokesman for the NATO military committee said on Wednesday.
Colonel Massimo Panizzi told a press briefing that the Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov, was expected to attend the meeting with NATO military committee, which brings chiefs of staff from the 28 NATO nations.
"It will be the first time that the Russian chief of staff has taken part in such a meeting since the Georgian affair," he said.
The two sides will discuss about furthering military cooperation, including Russia's possible contribution to the NATO-led military efforts in Afghanistan and fight against terrorism, he said.
"Afghanistan will be one of the most important items on the agenda, given that these discussions will take place on the eve of the international conference on the country organized in London," he said.
The relations between NATO and Russia were frozen after the August 2008 war. Though Georgia remains a source of tension, the relations between the two sides have improved in recent months.
In December 2009, NATO and Russian foreign ministers met in Brussels and agreed on enhancing military cooperation.