March 3, 2009 / 12:48 PM / 10 years ago

Clinton says missile shield to protect from Iran

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the United States’ intention to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons on Tuesday but declined comment on a report Washington offered Russia a deal to help achieve that.

She was asked at a news conference with Israel’s foreign minister in Jerusalem about a New York Times report that President Barack Obama wrote to Russia’s president offering to hold off deploying a U.S. missile defence system in Europe in return for Russian help on obstructing Iran’s nuclear programme.

Clinton said Washington shared Israel’s concerns, denied by Tehran, that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons: “We intend to do all that we can to deter and prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” she said, while repeating Obama’s offer to engage with Iran under certain conditions.

On Russia, which opposes plans for a U.S. missile shield in Europe, she noted that she had met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov briefly on Monday at an international meeting and would meet him again for longer on Friday:

“What we have said specifically in regard to missile defence in Europe is that it has always been intended to deter any missiles that might come from Iran,” Clinton said. “It remains our position. We have explained that to the Russians before.”

“There’s a broad agenda to discuss with the Russians. We’re going to be starting that on Friday,” she said of the planned meeting with Lavrov in Geneva.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Dominic Evans

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