Mar 03,2009 00:00
MADRID - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday he has received no U.S. offer to drop its European missile shield defense plan in exchange for help with Iran.
A number of U.S. newspapers and Russian news outlets reported U.S. President Barack Obama had sent a letter to Medvedev, offering to drop plans to install a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic if Russia would dissuade Iran from pursuing its nuclear program.
"We are in correspondence but no trade-offs have been discussed, I assure you," Medvedev told a news conference in Madrid, RIA Novosti reported.
Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Moscow would reconsider its own missile plans if Washington drops its plans.
"We are ready to continue discussions on (the missile issue), including in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council," Serdyukov said.
Top Russian officials repeatedly expressed hope Obama wouldn't follow through with former President George Bush's defense plan that Moscow said threatens its national security.
Media reports claimed a letter sent by Obama to Medvedev contained new missile defense proposals. The reports said Obama wrote to Medvedev that Russian help in resolving the issue of Iran's nuclear program would lead to Washington's rethinking the missile shield in Central Europe.
"If the deployment is suspended, we will not start the retaliatory measures we planned," Serdyukov said.
U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns told the Russian news agency Interfax while in Moscow last month delivering the letter, "If through strong diplomacy with Russia and our other partners we can reduce or eliminate that threat, it obviously shapes the way at which we look at missile defense."
The plan to build a radar facility in the Czech Republic and deploy interceptor missiles in Poland was a top priority for Bush to deter "rogue nations" such as Iran.
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