Medvedev to discuss missile defence at NATO summit


DEAUVILLE: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed on Tuesday to attend next month’s NATO summit and said Moscow was prepared to discuss the Alliance’s proposed anti-missile shield.
Medvedev was speaking in the elegant French seaside resort of Deauville after talks with French and German leaders that were partly overshadowed by news of a bloody separatist attack in the Russian republic of Chechnya. President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted Medvedev in order to promote closer security cooperation between Moscow and its former Cold War foes in the West in the run up to NATO’s Lisbon summit on November 19.
“We spoke about cooperation between Russia and NATO. It is an important conversation, meaningful and useful,” Medvedev said after the talks. “Here I would like to announce that I will go to the Russia-NATO summit.” Medvedev has long promoted what he thinks should be a common European security strategy uniting the continent once split between the West and the Soviet bloc under a joint strategic vision.
France, Germany and other Western powers have agreed to discuss this, but also remain tied to the NATO vision of a Euro-Atlantic pact including the US and Canada, with a NATO-Russia council attached to it. One of the recent disputes that has cast a chill over the slowly warming relations has been that of missile defence: Moscow has fiercely opposed US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in eastern Europe.
Washington insists the missile shield is designed to fend off threats from rogue states like Iran and is not aimed at undermining Russia’s missile force as a deterrent. It has now promised to modify its plans. In Lisbon, NATO will discuss setting up a joint alliance missile shield and has invited Russia to take part in it. Medvedev gave a cautious welcome to this idea, but said Moscow needed to hear more details. In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed Medvedev’s decision to attend the Lisbon side meeting.