White House: US "encouraged" by Russia on missile defense

Updated: 2007-06-11 14:29

WASHINGTON - The United States is "encouraged" by Russia's willingness to discuss missile defense system, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Sunday. 

U.S. President George W. Bush (L) shakes hands with President of Russia Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm June 7, 2007. U.S. President George W. Bush sought to calm tensions with Moscow on Thursday ahead of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Group of Eight (G8) summit in Germany. [Reuters]

"Frankly, we are encouraged by the fact that the Russians now are talking about figuring out a way to provide a missile shield that will discourage rogue regimes from loading nukes onto missiles and aiming them," Snow said on Fox News.

The Bush administration has been defending its planned missile defense shield, which, it says, is intended to protect against a potential Iranian threat.

Speaking after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a freeze to the US shield foreseen for eastern Europe, Snow noted that "deployment is something that's not going to take place for a while. What we're talking about is the best way to protect Europe."

Moscow is angered at the US plan to deploy missile interceptors in Poland and radar units in the Czech Republic as part of a project to extend the missile defense system in Europe.

Washington insists that the deployment of the system is aimed at preventing attacks from rogue states, not Russia.

Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin focused on the issue during their meeting last week at the Group of Eight summit. They will come up again when Putin visits the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, on July 1-2.

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