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Russia ready to discuss with US joint use of Azerbaijani radar

April 03, 2012, 20:36 UTC+3

Lavrov called attention to the fact that adoption of Phases 5 and 6 of the U.S. program would put Russia's strategic balance at risk

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BAKU, April 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia is prepared to discuss all the patterns of cooperation in a joint utilization of data obtained with the aid of the Qabala radar station in Azerbaijan if the U.S. shows readiness to open dialogue with Moscow regarding the antiballistic missiles program, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday upon the end of a meeting with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov.

"What was offered to the U.S. three years ago wasn't quite like a joint operation of the Qabala radar facility," Lavrov said. "What we offered was a pattern under which the data received by this station and by a new radar facility on the Russian territory would be accessible to both sides on the basis of mutuality so as to track down the potential threats of missile technologies proliferation."

He recalled that the initial proposal concerning Qabala had been made back during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Lavrov voiced the hope that the U.S. Administration, which had revoked the plans for deploying the so-called missile launching area and had replaced it with a phased adaptive approach towards a gradual buildup of antimissile missile capabilities in Europe, would heed Russia's concerns somehow.

"We're ready to conduct a dialogue, all the more so that various options can be considered and the main thing actually is to do joint work, not like offering something decided to us, something that's not meant for adjustments," he said.

Lavrov called attention to the fact that adoption of Phases 5 and 6 of the U.S. program would put Russia's strategic balance at risk.

The Qabala radar facility was built in the second half of the 1980's when Azerbaijan was a republic of the USSR. It was commissioned as a crucial element of the Soviet missile defense system and it remains an element of the Russian Federation's system of ea rly warnings on missile attacks nowadays, too.

In line with an agreement that Russia and Azerbaijan signed in 2002, the facility received the status of a center for information and analysis.

Qabala, one of the most ancient towns in South Caucasus, is located in the northwest of Azerbaijan, some 300 kilometers away from Baku.

A number of sources claim Russia is going to prolong the lease of the station through to 2025.

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