US missile shield for Mideast threat, Bush tells Russia's Putin

Date: 03-28-07

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President George W. Bush told Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday that a planned US missile shield in Europe is to defend against Middle East threats, the White House said.

"President Bush emphasized that missile defenses in Europe are intended to protect against the evolving ballistic missile threat from the Middle East -- a threat that we share in common with Europe and Russia," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

The United States is currently concerned about Iran's ballistic missiles.

In what was a "thorough and open" phone conversation initiated by the White House, according to the Kremlin, the two men discussed their differences over the missile defense plans and the fate of the Serbian province of Kosovo.

They also covered the Iranian nuclear standoff, especially the recent UN resolution aimed at increasing pressure on Tehran, the Kremlin said.

Johndroe said the two leaders "discussed the importance of continuing consultations at NATO on missile threats and defenses against them, and exploring options for further missile defense cooperation."

Russia has strongly objected to the US plans to place components of the shield in the Czech Republic and Poland as well as in one of the South Caucasus nations, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.


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