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US Spy Satellite Destruction Overshadows Missile Talks In Budapest


The United States has tried to reassure Russia that a missile strike against a failed American spy satellite late Wednesday was not a test for the controversial missile defense system Washington wants to build in the Czech Republic and Poland. Stefan Bos reports that U.S. Acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, John Rood, made the comments in Budapest after talks with Russian officials.

After hours of talks, John Rood admitted he reached no breakthrough on a missile defense system in Europe with his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak.

Russia firmly opposes American plans to build the system's radar site in the Czech Republic and a launch site in Poland.

Washington maintains the missile system is aimed at a possible missile threat from states such as Iran and North Korea, but Moscow says it threatens Russia's security, and undermines regional stability.

Thursday's negotiations, held at the US-backed International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, were also overshadowed by Moscow's anger over a missile strike against a failed American spy satellite late Wednesday.

Answering questions from VOA-News, Rood said his delegation tried to convince Russian colleagues that the destruction of the failed satellite by the U.S. Navy west of Hawaii was to avoid danger to human life, rather than to test capabilities of the controversial missile defense system.

"We did discuss that. And our Russian colleagues expressed their views and asked questions. I think we had a full exchange on that subject. This was and is not an attempt to develop a weapon. The United States has no intention to engage in an arms race on earth, or in space," he said.

Despite Moscow's objections, Rood revealed he expected that the Czech Republic and Poland would soon agree on placing the missile defense system on their territory. "We have made very significant progress just over the last couple of weeks with both countries in terms of those negotiations. I hope that I am conveying the optimism that I feel about our abilities to successfully conclude those agreements," he said.

The US official added that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek are due in Washington for talks on missile defense within the next few weeks. Rood did not rule out that more elements of the system would be stationed in other countries in the future.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak and his delegation declined to speak to reporters following the talks.

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