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Bush Cautiously Optimistic On Missile Defense-Radio Interview

March 20, 2008

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- U.S. President George W. Bush is “cautiously optimistic,” but unsure if the U.S. and Russia can overcome differences over a planned missile-defense system in Eastern Europe.

President Bush waves onstage at the Pentagon, March 19, 2008. ...
President Bush waves onstage at the Pentagon, March 19, 2008.(Jason Reed/Reuters)

Designed to offset the potential threat of attack by Iran or another rogue nation, the proposed ballistic missile defense system includes the installation of 10 interceptors in silos in Poland and early warning radar in the Czech Republic. But the plan has drawn stiff opposition from the Kremlin, which worries the system could be a threat to Russia’s national security.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were in Moscow this week, but their meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended without a resolution on missile defense.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Bush said in an interview Wednesday with Radio Farda, a U.S.-funded Farsi-language broadcaster. “I don’t know whether we can find common ground. But we are trying to find common ground, and that’s what’s – that’s the first step, is to make the attempt.”

Bush said it would “make life easier” if the U.S. and Russia could iron our their differences. He repeated that the system, which still needs to be approved by Poland and the Czech Republic, would not be aimed at Russia.