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Gates Wants Russia to Make Concessions on Missile Defense

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says U.S. proposals on European missile defense, which Russia's defense minister has rejected, are about as much as the United States can offer. The secretary spoke to reporters on his airplane en route home from a series of meetings in Europe. VOA's Al Pessin reports.

Secretary Gates says the proposals he and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made in Moscow earlier this month "leaned about as far forward" as the United States can. He said he now wants "to see some movement" by Russia.

In comments to reporters on his aircraft, Gates said the Russian rejection of the U.S. proposals raises the question of whether Russia's position is just "a pose" designed to prevent the United States from moving forward with planned installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. He said there is also now a question about "whether the Russians are serious about partnering" with the United States to defend Europe against missiles launched from the Middle East, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would like to do.

Reporters were not allowed to broadcast the comments Gates made on the aircraft.

The secretary was referring to what he said are four or five proposals, two of which he discussed in detail for the first time earlier this week, during a visit to Prague. One involves allowing Russian observers to visit the radar site planned for the Czech Republic and the anti-missile launch site planned for Poland. The other proposal involves delaying the activation of the sites until there is further evidence of Iran's ability to hit Europe with long-range missiles.

Russia's Itar-Tass News Agency quotes Russian Defense Minister Viktor Serdyukov as saying Thursday that the proposals do "not satisfy" Russia. The minister spoke shortly after meeting with Secretary Gates and other NATO defense ministers in the Netherlands.

U.S. and Czech officials say they could finish negotiations on the radar site by the end of the year. U.S. officials say the talks with Poland are not as far along, and will be delayed by Poland's change of government. But Gates says he expects the plan to go forward.