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Russia may not answer missile defence with Iskanders: Medvedev


File photo of U.S. President Barack Obama with Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev

LONDON (BNS): Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday there is a fine possibility that Russia will not have to place short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Region in response to the U.S. missile shield in Europe.

"We had a talk on this issue with the U.S. president. At a minimum I can say that today the U.S. has a desire to listen to our argument. They are not trying to cut off (talks) and say that the decision has already been made," Medvedev said in a speech at the London School of Economics, as quoted by Ria Novosti.

Holding their first face-to-face meeting on Wednesday, Medvedev and Obama agreed to start softening relations by following a deal to cut nuclear warheads.

US President Barack Obama and Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev in London had said they would take concrete steps to fulfill their obligations under the NPT, which forms the foundation of the world's nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Medvedev said that financing the missile defence system in its present form would be "a mistake" that would remain on the Bush administration's conscience, adding that both countries would make every effort "to find a way out of this difficult situation."

Meanwhile, welcoming the commitment made by the US and Russia to reduce their nuclear weapons arsenals, the head of International Atomic Energy Agency has said he is "greatly encouraged" by the development.

IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei said he believes the commitment by the leaders to negotiate a treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and strengthen efforts to secure these arms demonstrates leadership and moves the world beyond the Cold War mentality.

Earlier, Russian defence minister was quoted as saying that Moscow would not place Iskander missiles on the EU's doorstep if Washington abandoned its plans to deploy missile defenses in Central Europe.

Top Russian officials have repeatedly expressed their hope that President Barack Obama will not follow through with the missile defence plans of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

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