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De Hoop Scheffer (left) with Mironov (epa)
June 25, 2007 -- NATO's secretary-general and a top Russian lawmaker have held a heated debate over a proposed U.S. missile-defense system.
In a debate with Russian Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov broadcast on the Ekho Moskvy radio station, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer insisted that the proposed missile shield was not aimed against Russia.
"If it were true -- and in my opinion it is wrong -- that they are directly aimed against Russia, [even] under those circumstances it would have no effect on Russia," de Hoop Scheffer said.
Mironov asked, "Who is this aimed against?" adding, "When there are missiles at our borders...it is already a threat."
Moscow opposes U.S. plans to site parts of a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently suggested the United States could share a Russian-leased radar station in Azerbaijan instead.
De Hoop Scheffer said Putin's proposal demonstrated that Moscow also saw a threat from rogue nations, such as Iran.
De Hoop Scheffer is in Russia for a two-day visit. He is due to attend a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Moscow on June 26.
(AP, Interfax, ITAR-TASS)