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The U.S. and Georgia have never discussed the possible deployment of an American missile defense radar on Georgian territory
The U.S. and Georgia have never discussed the possible deployment of an American missile defense radar on Georgian territory, a deputy Georgian foreign minister said Friday. A senior Pentagon official said Thursday that the United States "would like to place a radar base in the Caucasus" amid earlier reports of plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, which have further strained relations between the U.S. and Russia. "That issue is not on today's agenda of Georgian-American relations. And it has never been raised," deputy PM Georgy Mandzhgaladze told the Novosti-Georgia news agency. The head of the Georgian parliament's external relations committee, Konstantin Gabashvili, also denied speculation that American radar could be deployed in Georgia. Commenting on the Pentagon official's Thursday statements, Gabashvili said the talk was not about Georgia. On February 27, Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili refuted some Russian media reports that the U.S. had proposed deploying elements of the American missile defense system in Georgia. "There was no such request, and we have not received any official statements on this issue," Bezhuashvili said then. Russia, which has been anxious about NATO bases that have appeared in former Communist-bloc countries and ex-Soviet republics, has blasted plans to deploy anti-missile systems in Central Europe as a national security threat and a destabilizing factor for Europe. Washington said the defenses would be designed to counter possible strikes from North Korea and Iran, which are involved in long-running disputes with the international community over their nuclear programs. Lieutenant General Henry Obering, who oversees the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, did not specify which country in the Caucasus might be selected as a possible site for an anti-missile radar. A senior Russian analyst suggested Friday that Georgia would be the most likely site. "The most convenient, in political terms, territory [for the radar] today is Georgia, which has not objected to a single U.S. proposal," said Leonid Ivashov, deputy head of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems think tank. "I believe the Americans could place a radar there." But he said that a deployment in Azerbaijan was also a possibility. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in Munich earlier that Georgia could become a candidate to join the alliance in 2009 if it successfully carried out the reforms of its Armed Forces.
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