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Putin Offers to Join US Missile Defense Plan

  • VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin is offering to work with the United States on a missile defense system if it is part of a Soviet-built radar base in Azerbaijan.

President Putin made his surprise proposal during a meeting with US President George W. Bush Thursday at the Group of Eight summit in Germany. The offer came after weeks of strong criticism from the Kremlin and threats to retaliate against US plans to build the system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Russian president said an existing deal with Azerbaijan would make it possible to use the former Soviet base that Russia rents. He said Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, backs the idea as a contribution to global security and stability.

Mr. Putin also said he would not aim Russian missiles at Europe if the United States agrees to his proposal.

President Bush calls the idea interesting and said the U.S. secretaries of state and defense will discuss it with their Russian counterparts.

Washington says the missile defense system is meant to counter a threat from states such as Iran. Mr. Putin had called it a threat to Russian security.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the G8 leaders have agreed to pursue substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming. She said a strategy will be worked out in the United Nations. Ms. Merkel, who is hosting this year's summit, put global warming at the top of the agenda. The summit wraps up Friday.
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