Lavrov Eases Tone in Poland Visit

WARSAW -- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov struck an unusually conciliatory tone during talks in Warsaw on Thursday but firmly reiterated Moscow's opposition to U.S. plans to place a missile-defense base on Polish soil.

The talks between Lavrov, his Polish counterpart Radek Sikorski and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk came less than a month after Warsaw and Washington signed a deal to put 10 interceptor missiles in northern Poland, just 180 kilometers from Russian territory, by 2012.

"We don't see any threat from Poland," Lavrov told reporters after meeting with Sikorski. "But we see a threat to Russian's security as a result of the American strategic system drawing closer to our borders."

Lavrov sought to stress that "other than [countering] Russia's strategic arsenal, the system for a long time will not have a goal."

The United States and Poland say the installation is meant to protect Europe and the United States from future attacks from Iran. However, it has drawn the wrath of Moscow, which has threatened attacks on Poland and the Czech Republic, which is to host a radar linked to the base.

Sikorski, meanwhile, tried to ease Moscow's concerns over the system.

"Poland will build confidence and will proceed in a predictable and transparent way," he said. "We hope that Russia's fears concerning the deal will fade with time."