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NATO welcomes possible suspension of Russian missile plans


BRUSSELS, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - NATO would consider the suspension of Russian plans to deploy Iskander missile systems near Poland a "good step," a NATO spokesman said on Wednesday.

Some media sources earlier cited a Russian high-ranking military source as saying that the Defense Ministry had so far taken no practical measures to deploy Iskander missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave.

"The earlier Russian announcement that they were going to deploy missiles into Kaliningrad and point them at NATO allies was unwelcome. If that decision has now been rescinded, it is a good step," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.

Last November, President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would deploy Iskander missile systems in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland, in response to any deployment by Washington of elements of a missile defense shield in Europe.

Moscow has strongly opposed U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its security and nuclear deterrence. Washington says the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from "rogue states."

However, Moscow recently expressed hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration would "take a break on the issue of missile defense ... and evaluate its effectiveness and cost efficiency."

Appathurai said there was no official information indicating that Washington had reversed its European missile shield plans. However, U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded more analysis of the missile shield plans.

Experts believe that the missile defense issue is likely to be on the agenda of a possible meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama on April 2 in London, on the sidelines of a G20 summit.

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