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    Senior Russian Official Blames US for Botched Anti-Missile Talks

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    Responsibility lies with the United States for the failed Russia-NATO dialog on the bloc's anti-missile defense shield in Europe, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said.

    MOSCOW, April 3 (RIA-Novosti) - Responsibility lies with the United States for the failed Russia-NATO dialog on the bloc's anti-missile defense shield in Europe, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said.

    The comments came following a meeting of foreign policy chiefs of NATO's 28 member states in Brussels on Tuesday, where they announced their decision to suspend practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia, excluding certain contacts of the NATO-Russia council.

    The ministers also agreed to "review NATO's relations with Russia at our next meeting in June." The alliance's Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, added that NATO hoped to later renew cooperation with Russia on anti-narcotics missions in Afghanistan.

    Russia's Sergei Ryabkov said the US Senate committee on ballistic missile defense had indeed indicated that its dialog with Moscow on the ABM program had recently been stalled. "We can confirm that it's really the case, and stress that the responsibility for this halt is entirely with the US side," the diplomat said.

    Mr. Ryabkov also suggested that NATO's sweeping decision to break off all contacts and scrap cooperation with Russia in many areas had apparently been forced on it by Washington.

    The Deputy Foreign Minister said the United States was looking for a way to demonstrate its real attitude towards Crimea's historic choice to reunifiy with Russia following a coup in Ukraine.

    "Crimea's re-unification with Russia is a major historical event. Its significance cannot be compared with the end or continuation of the missile defense dialog between Moscow and Washington," he noted.

    Residents of Crimea voted by a landslide to break away from Ukraine on March 16 and signed an agreement to rejoin Russia on March 18. The accord was endorsed by both houses of the Russian parliament, paving the way for the region's absorption, which was finalized last month.

     

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    missile defense, Sergei Ryabkov
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