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Russia says open to missile defence cooperation with NATO – AFP

SEOUL — Russia is open to cooperation with NATO on missile defence but the partnership must be an equal one, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.

“We proceed from the fact that if this is equal cooperation, beginning with joint analysis, joint estimates of those risks that exist in the sphere of missile proliferation then such cooperation is quite possible,” Lavrov told reporters at the G20 summit in Seoul on Friday.

“Strategic partnership should be built on an equal basis.”

His comments came just before a scheduled weekend meeting between US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Yokohama, and ahead of the NATO summit in Lisbon which the Kremlin chief agreed to attend.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen travelled to Moscow for talks with Medvedev earlier this month.

“The Russian president said he will be ready to formulate our additional proposals… in relation to the creation of an anti-missile pool of interested states,” Lavrov said, referring to Russia, the United States and European countries.

Moscow’s Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said last month his country was open to talks on NATO’s planned European missile shield but wants to play an equal role in developing it.

“The most important thing for us is firstly to define what are the real threats to Europe, and secondly is to see Russia put on an equal footing as a participant,” Serdyukov said in an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel.

“It is only thus can an anti-missile defence system be put in place which satisfies everyone.”

Previous US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in former Soviet satellite states in eastern Europe angered the Kremlin. NATO now hopes to ease these doubts by including Moscow in the planning of a broader system.

Lavrov said a joint anti-missile shield would be possible “with the existence of goodwill, readiness to cooperate on an equal footing, with mutual respect, taking into account each others’ interests”.

“It will not be directed against any third countries but it will highlight that Russia and NATO have common approaches, that we have common risks.”

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