NATO assures Russia its voice is heard on U.S. missile shield

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NATO's spokesman gave assurances on Wednesday that the alliance is listening to Russia's views on the Untied States' controversial plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe.
MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - NATO's spokesman gave assurances on Wednesday that the alliance is listening to Russia's views on the Untied States' controversial plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe.

The U.S. is planning to construct a base for 10 two-stage missile interceptors in Poland, and to modify its X-band radar on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific and relocate it to the Czech Republic. Russia fiercely opposes the plans, viewing them as a destabilizing factor for Europe and a threat to national security.

James Appathurai told a Brussels-Moscow video conference: "The two NATO nations who are participating in those discussions with the U.S. - Poland and the Czech Republic - have fully supported discussions within the Russian-NATO council on missile defense so that the Russian Federation's views are heard."

However, he said the alliance believes that U.S. proposals to Russia on the issue so far have been reasonable.

"NATO believes that the offers that the U.S. has made to the Russian Federation on missile defense cooperation are good ones and worthy of consideration."

During the video linkup, hosted by RIA Novosti, Appathurai also fielded questions on Georgia, Kosovo, and NATO's possible future expansion.

He said that NATO supports the territorial integrity of Georgia and believes that the issue of its breakaway regions should not be linked to Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia on February 17.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia proclaimed independence from Georgia following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and have relied on Russia's support ever since. On Thursday, South Ossetian officials are set to address Russia's parliament, seeking the country's backing for the province's secession plans.

Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin warned on Tuesday that the regions would secede if NATO decides to accept Georgia as a member.

The NATO spokesman reiterated that NATO had not yet made a political decision on inviting Ukraine or Georgia to join the alliance, but remained open to new members.

"NATO is not going out to get new members, but our door is open to European democracies," he said.

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