NATO hard to give Russia legal guarantees on missile defense systems: Rasmussen

16:14, June 07, 2011      

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NATO sees Russia as a partner rather than an adversary, but the alliance still argues with Russia's request on legal guarantees that the European missile defense system would not target Russia, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Interfax news agency in an interview released on Tuesday.

"The most promising path towards greater trust is more discussion, more political debate and exchange, rather than complicated legal formulas which would be difficult to agree on and ratify among 29 countries (the NATO member states and Russia)," Rasmussen said.

The Secretary General again gave Moscow his oral promise in the interview.

"I can also assure you - and I have said it publicly on many occasions - that NATO will never attack Russia and we are convinced that Russia sees the Alliance in the same light," Rasmussen said.

He admitted that "the legacy of the Cold War" is still lingering in minds of some people, thus he noted that the two sides need "a greater degree of mutual confidence and trust."

Meanwhile, Rasmussen reiterated the alliance does not want a combined NATO-Russian missile defense system but separate interacting missile defense systems.

Rasmussen said the reason is simple, because "NATO can not outsource to non-members collective defense obligations which bind its members and NATO's territorial missile defense system will be part of such collective defense framework."

"NATO's vision is of two separate but linked systems which share information and provide each side a clearer picture and better warning of possible threats," he said.

Moscow has long opposed the deployment of NATO missile defense facilities near its borders, saying they would be a security threat to the country and upset the strategic balance of force in Europe.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called Euro missile shield during the Russia-NATO Council summit in Lisbon in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with full-scale interoperability.

Source: Xinhua
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