MOSCOW, July 5 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview with a prominent Russian newspaper that the planned deployment of a U.S. missile shield in Europe was intended to counter Iran, not Russia.
In an interview with Novaya Gazeta to be published on Monday, Obama said that the United States was seeking to create a missile shield in Europe to protect the U.S. and Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.
Obama is arriving in Moscow on Monday on a two-day official visit for top-level talks with the Russian leadership to focus on nuclear arms reduction, U.S. missile shield plans in Europe and other key international and bilateral issues.
Obama told the paper that the United States was not creating and would not create a system of defense against a possible attack from Russia, adding that such a rationale was an inheritance of the cold war period.
Washington has agreed plans with Warsaw and Prague to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013. The United States says the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from "rogue states" such as Iran.
Russia has consistently opposed the missile shield as a threat to its national security and the balance of power in Europe.
Obama earlier indicated he could put on hold his predecessor George Bush's plans concerning the third site for Washington's global missile defense system, which he said needed more analysis.