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'Russia has not responded to missile shield proposals'

The US says that Russia has not responded to fresh US proposals to try to ease its concerns over US missile shield plans despite reports from Moscow suggesting it rejects them.

world Updated: Nov 13, 2008 10:20 IST

The United States said on Wednesday that Russia has not responded to fresh US proposals to try to ease its concerns over US missile shield plans despite reports from Moscow suggesting it rejects them.

An unnamed Kremlin official quoted by Russian news agencies said Russia cannot accept the proposals as they contain nothing new and will take up negotiations with the next administration of Barack Obama.

However, US arms control negotiator John Rood told AFP that no formal response has been received.

"We have not had an official response to the paper we provided last week. We have seen various public statements," Rood said in an email in response to an AFP query.

Rood, the US under secretary for arms control and international security who led negotiations on missile defense, told journalists last Thursday that the United States had sent the proposals to Russia at the start of the week.

He said the offer was sent to Moscow before President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to deploy missiles in response to the proposed US anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Rood said the proposals built on previous ones that would allow Russian authorities access to the missile shield sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.

He said he planned to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ryabkov in the coming weeks, probably in Moscow, to discuss the proposals as well as other issues, including cooperation on avoiding nuclear terrorism.

Referring apparently to that meeting, Rood said on Wednesday, "We expect the paper will be addressed with Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov."

Rood said last week he was still optimistic about a solution despite Medvedev's threat to deploy missiles in a part of western Russerous militants" were released in exchange for Fung's freedom, or that any ransom had been paid.

Canada's ambassador to Kabul, Ron Hoffmann, said Wednesday: "As part of their investigation (Afghan authorities) did detain briefly some family members of the kidnappers which was ultimately an important point of leverage to help secure her release."

But, "I want to be unequivocal about the fact there was no ransom paid, and there were no prisoners released," he added.

In the interview, as introduced to her new home: a hole in the ground.

The hole was covered by wood and dirt, and two air vents leading to the surface were hidden by rocks. She could hear passers-by and her captors warned her not to scream to bring attention to herself.

The brother of one of the kidnappers mostly watched over her, Fung said.

Kidnapping was a "family business" for them, she said, explaining that her keeper had spoken of five brothers, a sister and mother involved in the venture, and of their father in Pakistan who negotiated ransoms.

"He (also) had an uncle who was there with him and the other people sort of in that group where I was staying were all his friends," she said.

"They said they were Taliban, but I never really believed they were Taliban. They didn't seem organized enough or political enough to be Taliban."