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Putin: US May Be Softening Its Position on Missile Defense


Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States may be ready to soften its position on plans for a missile defense system in Europe and stressed that talks on the issue should continue.

The Russian leader in an interview with Iranian news media said the latest contacts with the Americans indicate the possibility of a certain change in the U.S. position. He then pledged to continue dialogue.

Mr. Putin repeated his earlier view that he sees no identifiable threat that would require deployment of the defense system in central Europe. But he said his country will work with the United States and European nations to overcome differences.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week in Moscow rejected a Russian call for a freeze on the U.S. project while talks continue. But Rice said she and Defense Secretary Robert Gates presented new proposals to Russian officials.

The United States says the system of 10 missile interceptors in Poland and radar-monitoring facilities in the Czech Republic are needed for defense against possible attack from such rogue states as Iran and North Korea. Russia calls the plan a threat to its security and warns that it will lead to a new arms race.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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