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    Obama will not reject European missile shield plans - expert

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    Washington is unlikely to scrap the Bush administration's plans to deploy elements of a missile defense shield in Central Europe, a U.S. expert on Russia said on Friday.

    MOSCOW, February 6 (RIA Novosti) - Washington is unlikely to scrap the Bush administration's plans to deploy elements of a missile defense shield in Central Europe, a U.S. expert on Russia said on Friday.

    The director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Andrew Kuchins, said at a press conference in Moscow that he "doubted Obama's administration would reject the project."

    "If the Russians think that the U.S. might reject the [missile defense shield], then they'll be disappointed," Kuchins said, adding that "they will try to find a compromise with Russia."

    Moscow has strongly opposed U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its security and nuclear deterrence. Washington says the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from "rogue states" such as Iran.

    However, Moscow recently expressed hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration would "take a break on the issue of missile defense ... and evaluate its effectiveness and cost efficiency."

    With regard to Ukraine and Georgia becoming members of NATO, Kuchins believes that Obama's position "would be more reserved." Kuchins added that the administration has "higher priority issues."

    He also said that there was a chance for an improvement in Russian-American relations, adding that the main discussions between Moscow and Washington would be the situation in Afghanistan and issues of security and disarmament.

    "The [Obama] administration understands that it is impossible to solve security issues in Europe without Russia," he said.

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