Georgia may consider hosting US missile shield
May 2, 2007 - 6:37:03 PM

Moscow, May 2 - Georgia Wednesday said that it may consider to host a US missile shield system on its soil if Washington puts up a request.

'If [the US] come and tell us that they want to -, we would certainly be willing to talk about it,' Gela Bezhuashvili said in an interview with British daily The Financial Times.

'There is no formal application, not even informal talks,' he said. 'But if they ask for help, we will talk with them.'

Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, head of the US Missile Defence Agency, had said earlier the US would like to deploy a forward-based radar in the Caucasus to facilitate its ability to track missiles originating from Iran.

Bezhulashvili said the majority of the country's population supports NATO membership.

'We have public support for NATO membership at 84 percent, have recently doubled our troops in Iraq. I do not think it would be a problem,' he said.

But he added that while relations with the US are improving, further tension was expected in relations with Russia.

'I think the relationship - will actually deteriorate in the future. The dynamics in all of this were not very promising,' he said.

Russia fears that Georgia's NATO membership will seriously worsen relations between Moscow and Tbilisi, a senior foreign ministry official said last week.

While uneasy about the opening of NATO bases in the Baltic region and Central Asia, Moscow strongly opposes efforts by Georgia and Ukraine to join the alliance, saying the prospect threatens its security and will unleash a new arms race.

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