WASHINGTON (AP) _ A U.S.-Russian dispute over a missile shield in Eastern Europe is too complicated to be resolved during two days of talks next month between President Bush and President Vladimir Putin, a Kremlin spokesman said Thursday.
Dmitry Peskov said the United States should freeze the proposed anti-missile plan while Washington and Moscow evaluate a counterproposal from Putin.
While ties between Moscow and Washington have been described as being at their worst since the Cold War, Peskov said the relationship was ``definitely not living through its golden age. But I wouldn't agree that we're in the worst period'' since the Cold War.
As conceived by the United States, the missile shield would break the strategic balance of power that has helped keep the peace in Europe for decades, Peskov said in an interview. ``Of course Russia will have to restore that balance somehow,'' he said.
Bush and Putin are to meet July 1-2 in Kennebunkport, Maine, at the oceanfront estate of Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush.
The United States has proposed setting up a radar system in the Czech Republic and installing 10 interceptor rockets in Poland to guard against a strike from a country such as Iran.
Putin is unhappy about the prospect of missiles being deployed in Russia's back yard, and has proposed instead that the system be anchored around a Soviet-era radar installation in Azerbaijan. Bush has called the idea interesting but has said the United States is going ahead with planning for the Poland-Czech Republic plan.
``The United States will continue to discuss missile defense options with Poland, Czech Republic, other NATO allies as well as the Russians,'' National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
``This is a complex issue which will include a number of meetings with all the parties involved over the coming months. We hope the Russians accept President Bush's invitation to send experts to the United States,'' Johndroe said.
The other main dispute to be discussed in Kennebunkport will be independence for Kosovo. The United States backs Kosovo's bid while Russia, Serbia's traditional ally, opposes it and has threatened to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution.