Nothing new in US missile defence proposal-Russia

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MOSCOW, Oct 17 (Reuters) The latest US proposals on its plan to build a missile defence shield in eastern Europe contain nothing new, local news agencies quoted Russian military chief of staff Yuri Baluyevsky as saying today.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a visit to Moscow last week, handed over compromise proposals including letting Russia inspect elements of the missile shield.

''The General Staff and experts from the Russian side see nothing new in these proposals,'' Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

US plans to build part of the shield in Poland and the Czech Republic have angered Moscow which says the missiles are a threat.

Washington has maintained that the shield is to stop ''rogue states'' such as Iran from launching missile attacks.

Baluyevsky said he saw no evidence that Iran would have the capability to launch such long-range attacks any time soon.

''We do not see that this could be done in the short and medium term, or that it could be done at all,'' he was quoted as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week warned Russia could pull out of the US-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty unless it was expanded to impose restrictions on other countries arsenals' as well.

Baluyevsky said though there was no need for Russia to pull out of the pact immediately because it had missiles not banned by the treaty that could protect it from attack.

''Today there is not any burning need for Russia to leave the treaty, although Russia does need missiles of this type,'' Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.

REUTERS PD KN1822

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