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Russian Accuses US of Backtracking in Missile Shield Talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has again criticized a U.S. proposal for a missile defense system based in Europe.

Speaking in Moscow Wednesday, Lavrov said the United States has backtracked from an understanding the two countries reached in October.

He said the U.S. offered in October to allow constant Russian monitoring of planned U.S. missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. Lavrov said the current proposal offers only intermittent visits by Russian monitors.

Lavrov voiced similar complaints to Russian reporters last month in Washington, after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The U.S. has denied allegations that it is backing away from missile defense offers made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary Rice.

The United States wants to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and guidance radar in the Czech Republic, to counter what it says are threats from such nations as Iran and North Korea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says such a system in central Europe will destabilize the region and lead to a new arms race.