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Russia urges quick missile defence deal with US

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MOSCOW (AP): A deal with Washington to assuage Moscow's concerns about US missile defence plans in Europe is still possible, but time is running out, Russia's foreign minister has said.

Sergey Lavrov reaffirmed that Moscow will take retaliatory action if moves by Washington to deploy missile shield components around Europe pose a threat to Russia.

The US says its planned missile shield is aimed at deflecting potential missile threats from Iran, but Russia fears that the missile shield will eventually grow powerful enough to undermine Russia's nuclear deterrent.

"Like any responsible state, we proceed not from declarations, but from concrete action when it comes to security issues," Lavrov said Wednesday. "Our response will strictly correspond to the potential of the European component of the US missile defence as it develops."

Moscow agreed in 2010 to consider NATO's proposal to cooperate on the US-led missile shield, but the talks have run into a deadlock over how the system should be operated. Russia has insisted that it should be run jointly, which NATO has rejected.

In a televised address to the nation in November, President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to deploy missiles to the Kaliningrad region, bordering Poland and Lithuania, and to other areas of Russia to be aimed at US missile defence sites, if the US and NATO fail to reach a deal allaying Russian worries.

He urged the US to provide firm and specific guarantees that its future missile defence potential will not be directed against Russia.

Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia doesn't want confrontation with the US and doesn't think that Washington is making a specific effort to erode Russia's nuclear deterrent.

But he added that the growing power of the US missile shield could eventually make it capable of engaging Russia's nuclear forces.

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