Russia moves closer to NATO over controversial missile shield

By Andreas Illmer

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has indicated Moscow might soften its stance on a controversial anti-missile shield after reassurances from France and Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed Russia apparently softening its stance towards NATO.

After talks with Dmitry Medvedev and his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel said she was "very happy that the Russian president will take part in the NATO summit. I'm pleased that there is a basic willingness to participate."

Medvedev had earlier accepted the invitation to personally attend the upcoming summit of the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization, scheduled for November in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.
Compromise and dialogue
"I will attend the summit because it seems to me that this will further the search for necessary compromises and the development of dialogue between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic alliance as a whole," Medvedev said.

NATO is expected to use the summit to unveil plans for a European missile defense shield. Washington says the shield is meant to protect Europe from attacks from Iran or North Korea. Moscow, however, sees the shield as being at least partly directed against Russia.

Merkel, Sarkozy and Medvedev met in the French resort of Deauville for two days of talks on East-West cooperation on defense police.
Moscow remains concerned
Medvedev used the opportunity to reiterate his country's concerns about the missile shield, but said he was open to cooperation.

"We are now evaluating the idea of this proposal, but I think that NATO itself needs to understand in what form it sees Russia joining this system, what it will bring, in what manner an agreement can be reached, and how to proceed further," he said.

"Only based on the evaluation of this proposal can we give an answer on how we will proceed as regards the idea of European missile defense," he added.