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Agence France Presse

Russia Accuses US of Building 'New Berlin Wall'

AFP staffwriters

MOSCOW  - A senior Russian government minister accused the United States on Sunday of building a "new Berlin wall" with its plans for a missile defence system in Central Europe that have infuriated Moscow. 0708 04

"They are trying to push us into knocking heads with Europe... in order to create a new dividing line, a new Berlin Wall," first deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov said in an interview on state-run Rossiya television.

"It is obvious that continuing with the plans and carrying them out by placing rockets in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic will, of course, present an obvious threat to Russia."

Washington's plans for the missile shield, which it says is meant to protect against possible attacks from Iran or North Korea, have rocked already unsteady relations between Russia and the United States in recent months.

Russia has proposed creating a joint missile defence system with US and NATO participation as an alternative to Washington's current plan, but US officials have treated the proposal cautiously.

"We are proposing creating a unified missile defence system by 2020 for all participants, with equal access to the system's controls," Ivanov said.

He also said that Russia and the United States would hold talks on missile defence in September or October involving both ministers of defence, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Copyright © AFP 2007

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