MOSCOW: The U.S. and Russia can resolve a missile dispute that has poisoned relations in recent years and even start working together on the issue, a top U.S. senator said April 15.
Russia has repeatedly expressed anger at U.S. plans to place missile defense facilities in the Czech Republic and Poland, an issue that helped trigger a substantial deterioration in ties under former President George W. Bush.
“We believe that if we can undertake some serious discussions and negotiations in the area of missile defense, this subject which has divided us can actually turn around and we can work together,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Levin, the chairman of the Senate armed services committee, said “certain aspects of missile defense could be uniting instead of dividing.”
The senator was holding talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, alongside fellow Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
Lavrov, who, along with other Russian officials, has hailed a warming of ties under new President Barack Obama, expressed satisfaction that a “pause” in relations had been overcome.
“The parliaments of both countries have a very important role to play in the efforts to overcome the inertia in our relationship and the Cold War mentality,” he said.
However Obama said earlier this month that Washington would press on with the controversial plan to base the missile defense shield in central Europe so long as a threat remained from Iran.
But the two sides are expected to start talks later this month on renewing a key Cold War missile treaty in a move that could see them drastically reduce their nuclear arsenals.