The United States welcomes Moscow’s willingness to further reduce nuclear weapons and reiterates that American missile shield in Europe is not aimed against Russia, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State said.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is ready for taking further steps to reduce and limit the arsenal of strategic offensive weapons, but on condition that the United States also changes its stance on the missile shield in Europe.
“As you know, we are interested in continuing arms control talks going forward. That said, we reject any linkage with missile defense. As we always say, these are defensive systems; they are not directed at Russia; they’re primarily directed at the threat from Iran and from rogues, et cetera,” Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a daily press briefing.
She said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will possibly discuss Putin’s statement in more detail next week during the 2012 APEC summit that will be held in Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East.
“Well, obviously the stop in Vladivostok, where we’ll get a chance to see a Russian leaders will give us an opportunity to explore in a little bit more detail what might have been behind those comments,” she said.
Nuland added that the United States will “continue to try to encourage Russia to be more open-minded about missile defense cooperation, not only with us but with NATO as well.”
Negotiations between Russia and NATO member states on the U.S.-led missile defense project have deadlocked over the West's reluctance to give Moscow such guarantees.
The United States scrapped plans in September 2010 for an anti-ballistic-missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Moscow welcomed the move, and then-President Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia would drop plans to deploy Iskander-M tactical missiles in its Kaliningrad Region, which borders NATO members, Poland and Lithuania.
Last year, however, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Washington's plans to deploy a missile interceptor site in Poland by 2018.