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Will NATO missile defense idea have 'mutual benefit' for US, Russia?

Proposal for partnership follows Obama's decision to nix a missile shield based in Europe.

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"Give him some ground on one issue, and they look to seize ground on another," he says. "Their appetite is insatiable."

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Onus now on Russia

Still, a senior Kremlin official told Reuters Friday that President Obama's move had opened the door for greater cooperation on arms reduction and nuclear nonproliferation, especially on Iran.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who is to meet Mr. Obama Sept. 23 in New York, said in an interview published Friday that Russia would listen more attentively to US concerns, though there would be no "primitive compromises."

In response to the US move, Moscow scrapped plans to deploy truck-mounted Iskander missiles and nuclear-capable T-22 strategic bombers in Kaliningrad, an area bordering Poland.

Neither this nor NATO's partnership proposal may assuage fears among former Soviet-bloc countries about being left vulnerable to Russia. Leaders there have already expressed alarm about the US dropping the land-based missile shield. Poland and the Czech Republic saw the missile system as a way to cement US commitment to their defense against Russia.

Many Republicans have also decried the move as a capitulation to Russia. Some say the US is putting too many chips on the table without demanding anything in return.

Clinton defends move

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton defended the change in missile shield plans Friday, saying the administration is not shelving missile defense but making it more effective and flexible.

She also reassured European allies about US commitment, noting that a US Patriot antimissile unit will do rotational duty in Poland, and that the US will also be engaged in "close missile defense research and development" with Czech companies.

"We would never, never walk away from our allies," she said in a speech at the Brookings Institution.

Former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, who worked for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, said the decision was wise. "I believe it advances US national security interests, supports our allies, and better meets the threats we face," he said in a prepared statement.

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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