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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Offers to Delay Parts of Missile Shield

The United States has proposed delaying the activation of parts of its missile defense shield if Russia cooperates on the project, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.

Gates told reporters in Prague that the possible delay was one of the proposals he and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put forward in talks with Russian officials to try to ease Moscow's concern and win its cooperation in controversial U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe.

Gates also said activation of the missile shield, whose components are planned to be sited in Poland and the Czech Republic, would depend on "definitive proof" of a threat from Iran.

Gates also said the U.S. administration had offered to allow the Russians to maintain a presence at the Czech site, in order to promote transparency.

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow to Gates' statement.

In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier Tuesday that Moscow did not share Washington's assessment of the threat from Iran but acknowledged that a joint U.S.-Japan missile defense pact addressed a legitimate threat from North Korea.

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush insisted on Tuesday that a missile shield in Europe was needed for the security of the United States and its NATO allies despite Russia's objections.

(AP, Reuters)