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Obama Says No 'Quid Pro Quo' with Russia on Missile Defense


President Barack Obama says reducing Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons reduces the need for a missile shield in Europe. But the president denies any deal with Russia to stop Iran from developing long-range weapons.

Tuesday at the White House, Mr. Obama said a report in The New York Times newspaper did not accurately characterize a letter he sent to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

Mr. Obama said the letter covered a whole range of issues, but did not include a suggestion that the U.S. would reconsider plans to deploy the defense system if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons.

He said the letter was a statement of fact, repeating what he has said before that the missile shield is directed at an Iranian threat - not a Russian threat.

Mr. Obama said the United States must reset its relationship with Russia.

In Spain Tuesday, Mr. Medvedev also said no such exchange was offered and that it was "not productive" to link talks over the missile defense system with Iran's nuclear program.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday in Geneva. Presidents Obama and Medvedev meet in London April 2.

The missile defense plan angered Moscow when it was proposed by the Bush administration. Former U.S. President George W. Bush said it was needed to deter Iran in case Tehran developed a nuclear warhead to fit on long-range missiles.

The Bush administration's plans included building a high-tech radar facility in the Czech Republic, and deploying 10 interceptor missiles in Poland - two nations that Russia once considered within its "sphere of influence." Mr. Bush rebuffed a Russian counter-proposal to install part of the system on its territory and jointly operate it.

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