Bush: Russia Shouldn't Fear U.S. Defense
Tuesday June 5, 2007 2:01 PM
By WILLIAM J. KOLE
Associated Press Writer
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) - Russia is not an enemy of the United States and shouldn't fear a proposed missile defense system designed to thwart a possible nuclear attack from Iran, President Bush said Tuesday.
"Russia is not the enemy,'' Bush said after meeting with Czech leaders in a visit en route to the G-8 summit in Germany. He said he would take a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that ``we can work together on common threats."
The Kremlin is bitterly opposed to the missile shield, and Putin has warned that Russia could take "retaliatory steps" if Washington insists on building it.
Polls show more than 60 percent of Czechs are against plans to station a radar system southwest of Prague, and surveys in Poland - where 10 interceptor missiles would be based - show strong opposition there as well. Both countries are still negotiating with the U.S. over whether to host the shield.
Bush sought to play down Russia's response, which has overshadowed his European trip.
"The Cold War is over. It ended," Bush said at the medieval Prague Castle, where he met with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.
":My message will be: 'Vladimir - I call him Vladimir - you shouldn't fear a missile defense system. As a matter of fact, why don't you cooperate with us on a missile defense system?" Bush said.
"The people of the Czech Republic don't have to choose between being a friend of Russia or a friend of the United States. You can be both," he added.