NATO allies to meet amid Russian anger on missile

NATO allies to meet amid Russian anger on missile

NATO allies to meet amid Russian anger on missile

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) listens to military officials in Kaliningrad in this file photo. Russia activated a radar system in Kaliningrad last month. REUTERS photo

NATO allies will strive to convince Moscow this week that their European missile shield is not aimed at Russia after the Kremlin threatened to deploy weapons systems near EU borders.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join her 27 NATO counterparts for talks today that will also touch on security transition in Afghanistan, ties with the Arab world and tensions in Kosovo. Tomorrow they are expected meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in hopes to negotiate a cooperation deal with Moscow regarding the NATO missile shield, alliance diplomats said, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.

“Rather than having threats to NATO in response to the deployment of NATO missile defenses, it would be better if NATO and Russia were to cooperate on dealing with the threats that we face in common,” said a senior NATO official.

A diplomat said NATO wants to “calm things down” after Russia activated a radar warning system against incoming missiles in its exclave of Kaliningrad on EU borders last week.

Days earlier President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to deploy missiles in Kaliningrad, but he left the door open for continued dialogue on NATO’s defense system one year after he agreed to explore ways to cooperate.

“We have been clear and I assume we will be clear in the ministerial that NATO missile defenses will go ahead ... that those defenses are not directed against Russia,” the senior NATO official said. Western officials insist that the missile shield is targeted against growing threats from the Middle East, especially Iran.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Dec. 4 that the missile defense system to be deployed in Turkey is simply an early warning radar designed to defend the country, Anatolia news agency reported. He said the radar, which is to be stationed in the town of Kürecik in the eastern province of Malatya, is not an attack system.

“The only aim [of the radar] is to protect our country against any possible nuclear threats from whomever it comes. Our main goal is a world, a Middle East, free of nuclear weapons.”

Uneasy relations with Pakistan will not be on the agenda of the meet, but a peacekeeping mission to Kosovo will be discussed.

Turkey to attend NATO meeting

Davutoğlu will attend the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Dec. 7 and 8, a statement by his ministry said yesterday. “Developments in the Middle East and North Africa and Afghanistan, as well as partnerships, missile defenses, Deterrence and Defense Posture Review [DDPR] and NATO-Russia relations will be the main items on the agenda of the meeting,” the statement read.
Additional AA story from Ankara was included in this report.

Additional AA story from Ankara was included in this report.