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  Tuesday, November 19, 2019
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Russia's foreign minister said during a visit to Singapore on Wednesday
Russia's foreign minister said during a visit to Singapore on Wednesday that the U.S. had done little to ensure transparency over its missile defense plans for Central Europe.

Sergei Lavrov, on a two-day visit to Singapore for six-nation talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament and to take part in an annual forum of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), was speaking after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"We [Russia] emphasized the necessity of actually bringing some clarity to the situation around the missile shield, in so much as the promises made to us by our U.S. colleagues for transparency and building trust have not as yet materialized into anything concrete and tangible," Lavrov told journalists.

The U.S. plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in northern Poland as part of a U.S. missile shield for Europe and North America against possible attacks from "rogue states," including Iran. Washington is planning to link the missile base in Poland with an early warning radar in the Czech Republic. The Czech government has already agreed to the U.S. plans, pending approval by parliament.

Russia views the possible deployment of the U.S. missile shield as a threat to its national security. Poland earlier rejected a U.S. suggestion that Russian observers could have permanent access to the planned missile defense base.

Lavrov also said that Russia had called for more intensive talks on a new strategic arms treaty to succeed the effective Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) that expires on December 5, 2009.

"We do not want to leave an empty space in an important field related to strategic stability", he said.

The Kremlin announced in early June that it would like to see a new deal reached by the end of the year.

Lavrov said that Rice had promised to speed up U.S. work on the issue of a new strategic arms treaty.

START-1 was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union on July 31, 1991, five months before the U.S.S.R. collapsed.

The meeting between the foreign ministers of the countries negotiating North Korea's nuclear disarmament will take place on Wednesday or Thursday on the sidelines of the ASEAN forum.

This is the first time that the six nations involved in the talks - Russia, the U.S. China, Japan, and the two Koreas - have sent their top diplomats to negotiations on North Korea's nuclear program.

The latest round of talks on North Korea was held on July 10-12 in Beijing. The negotiations were given a boost by North Korea's agreement to scrap its nuclear reactors by the end of October, and to allow foreign experts to visit facilities to verify information released by the communist state on its past nuclear activities.


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