WASHINGTON, November 19 (Itar-Tass) —— A group of prominent Russian experts on foreign, defense and economic policies has invited the U.S. to seek solutions to divisive issues, particularly those on missile defense, at non-governmental levels.
As board members of the public movement Center for US-Russia Rapprochement told a news conference at the Washington National Press Club on Friday, at the latest meetings at the Department of State, the Pentagon, and U.S. Congress they put forward two specific initiatives.
"It's no secret that at the official level the dialogue between the U.S. and Russia on the deployment in Europe of the U.S. missile defense system is at a standstill,” said the former Chief of Staff of the Strategic Missile Force, Colonel-General Viktor Yesin, retired. “We have proposed creating a joint group of non-governmental experts, which would be searching for ways out of this problem. "
"Keeping in mind the fact that the missile defense program is largely a response to the development of Iran’s nuclear and missile potential, the nuclear issue of Iran must be treated comprehensively,” he continued. “Also it is not a secret that within the framework of the ongoing negotiations within the format of the sextet (five permanent members of UN Security Council plus Germany) there has been no progress. We decided that we need another expert group that would tackle the problem of resolving the Iranian nuclear program in that direction, on the one hand, to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, and on the other, to normalize the situation and find possible ways out that would keep Iran within its civilian nuclear program."
Yesin is convinced that "if Iran has no nuclear weapons, then there will disappear the need for a European missile defense."
"These proposals are aimed at ensuring that there should be no confrontation between Russia and the U.S. on these issues,” he said. “Our proposals have met with understanding from the American counterparts to whom we talked, and we hope that these groups will be established soon and will work successfully. "
Among the counterparts of Russian experts in Washington were First Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Under Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow and Congress member Dana Rorabaker.
As the center’s deputy chairman, Yevgeny Savostyanov, pointed out at the same news conference, the current state of the dialogue between Moscow and Washington "is not in the interests of our peoples," and "we (in Russia) decided to create a non-governmental organization, which would include those who want to have friendly relations with the American people ... who are ready to start promoting closer relations between the public of the two countries. "
Savostyanov said the Center’s delegation had come to Washington "to explain who we are, to find partners on the American side, and put forward initiatives for creating non-governmental groups of experts."
The delegation also included, in particular, the director of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies, Sergei Rogov, and president of the Russia-US Business Council, David Yakobashvili.