The United States and Russia failed to settle their differences on US plans to place a missile defence shield in Europe yesterday, and Washington rejected a request from Moscow to freeze the project.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, after talks in Moscow, also clashed publicly on how to tackle Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Lavrov called Washington’s tough stance unhelpful.
The talks took place against a backdrop of growing friction between the West and an increasingly assertive Russia seeking to restore its military might that has echoes of the Cold War.
Rice and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates brought new proposals they said were intended to soothe concerns the missile shield threatened Russian security.
But Lavrov, speaking at a news conference with Rice, Gates and Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov after five hours of talks, said those proposals needed more study and Washington should halt work on the shield in the meantime.
Earlier, in remarks to Rice and Gates before the media at his dacha outside Moscow, President Vladimir Putin also urged Washington not to move ahead with its missile shield plans.
Putin kept Gates and Rice waiting for more than half an hour at the dacha before greeting them.