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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fischer Foresees Russia Accepting U.S. Missile Plans

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer predicted Monday that despite the Kremlin's sharp rhetoric, Russia will eventually reconcile itself to U.S. intentions to build a national missile defense system.

Russia has vehemently opposed the U.S. proposal. Such systems are prohibited by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the Kremlin says is a cornerstone of world security. Germany also has opposed the proposal.

But Fischer, in Moscow for a two-day visit, said Russia would likely resign itself to the missile defense system.

"In the end, the Russians are going to accept it somehow," Fischer told reporters. He added that Washington would have a harder time with China, which could decide to build up its arsenal in response to missile defense plans.

Washington has long tried to assure Moscow that the missile shield would not be able to guard against Russia's huge nuclear arsenal, being designed only to protect against possible smaller-scale attacks by so-called rogue nations. But Russia has rejected the argument.

Germany also has shown support to Russia on another sensitive defense issue - NATO's eastward expansion. Moscow is worried that the Western alliance is getting too close to Russia's borders, and Berlin has cautioned against expanding NATO too quickly.

Yet Fischer noted a "very positive development" in Russian-NATO relations in recent weeks, adding that Moscow may be more amenable than it sounds.

"The (Russian) comments are sometimes a bit harsh, but it all depends on the climate," Fischer said. "The climate is good; there's a difference between statements and climate."

Fischer also said he did not see Germany as a mediator between Russia and the United States on security issues, and said the countries were capable of negotiating directly. "Germany does not have the role of go-between for Washington and Moscow," he said.

Fischer met Monday afternoon with Gennady Seleznyov, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, and with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

He was expected to express concern over Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran. Last week in Berlin, he issued a warning to Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi against any attempt to use Russian technology to build nuclear weapons.

Russia has signed a deal to build a nuclear reactor at Iran's Bushehr power plant, drawing strong U.S. objections over fears that the technology could be used to develop nuclear arms. Moscow and Tehran maintain the plant can be used only for civilian purposes.

However, Fischer did not comment on the issue after the meeting with Ivanov.

On Tuesday, Fischer was scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin, who perfected his German serving as a KGB agent in East Germany. Putin's friendship with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has given a boost to Russian-German ties over the past year.

Fischer said he would not discuss Moscow's huge debt to Germany, Russia's largest creditor, since the issue was to be discussed at a meeting of the Russian-German Cooperation Council in Berlin Monday.