President Nicolas Sarkozy of France proposed a time-out today in the dangerous arms race prompted by Washington’s plans to position a missile defence shield in Europe.
Speaking after hosting an EU-Russian summit in the southern city of Nice, Mr Sarkozy proposed that a security summit be held next summer at which Russia, the United States and Europe could hammer out a long-term security framework. He added that the proposed missile shield would do “nothing” to help European security.
Mr Sarkozy appears to have won the agreement of his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, who threatened last week to site short-range nuclear missiles in the western enclave of Kaliningrad, on the borders of the EU.
“I have suggested that in mid-2009 we could meet within a framework to lay the foundations of what could possibly be a future pan-European security system,” Mr Sarkozy said at a joint press conference with Mr Medvedev. “This would bring together the Russians, the American and the Europeans.”
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Mr Sarkozy said that the pact could be discussed next year at a summit of the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), adding: “Between now and then, please, no more talk of missile deployment or anti-missile deployment.”
Responding to the proposal, Mr Medvedev called for all sides in the dispute to avoid “unilateral measures” before the new framework is agreed. He also defended the Russian plans to site missiles in Kaliningrad, calling it “a response to various nations in Europe who, without consulting anyone, agreed to deploy new weapons on their soil”.