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U.S. can't confirm report on Russia easing missile stance

  • Story Highlights
  • Russian news agency Interfax says Moscow was reconsidering its stance
  • Bush administration had planned to station the system in Poland, Czech Republic
  • Interfax says Moscow sensing hesitation by Obama administration to follow through
  • The issue was a major irritant in U.S.-Russia relations during the Bush years
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From Jill Dougherty CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States cannot confirm a media report that Russia will not follow through on its threat to deploy missiles near Poland in response to a U.S. plan to place a missile defense system in the eastern European country, a state department spokesman said Wednesday.

"If it is true it's a positive step," spokesman Robert Wood said at a news briefing.

The report -- from the Russian news agency Interfax, which cited unnamed Russian Foreign Ministry sources -- said Moscow was reconsidering its stance because it senses a reluctance on the part of the Obama administration to proceed with the Bush administration's plan to station the U.S. system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The United States has said the system was aimed at countering a potential missile strike from rogue nations, such as Iran. Moscow sees it as a threat to Russia.

The subject was a major irritant in U.S.-Russia relations during the Bush administration, which pushed the program forward.

Russia had said it would station the missiles in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, but the State Department did not say whether she discussed the issue with him.

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