Putin rejects Bush’s missile plans

Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirms his opposition to controversial US plans to install a missile defense shield in central Europe.

“Our fundamental attitude toward the American plan has not changed,” Putin said at a news conference with Bush at his vacation house at this Black Sea resort, AP reported. “We got a lot of way to go,” Bush said.

The declaration came after US president George W. Bush and Putin ended their last face-to-face meeting.

The US plans to site elements of its planned missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Moscow says it could undermine Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.

Bush reiterated his insistence that the plan – designed to intercept and destroy approaching ballistic missiles at high altitudes – should not be viewed as a threat to Russia. In a clear reference to Iran, he said the system would help protect Europe from “regimes that could try to hold us hostage.”

“I view this as defensive, not offense,” Bush said. “And, obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to convince the experts this defense system is not aimed at Russia.”
Putin’s remarks referred to offers by the US to give Russian officers access to the sites, and not to activate the system until Iran tests an intercontinental missile capable of reaching Europe and the US.

Despite the impasse, the two leaders agreed that Moscow and Washington would work together closely in the future on missile defense and other difficult issues.

The two leaders also signed a nine-page strategic framework aimed at keeping relations between their countries on an even keel.