WASHINGTON – The Obama administration expressed willingness to negotiate with Russia over providing European countries with a missile defense shield if the Russians decrease their role in supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to informed Middle East security officials.
Last March, President Obama was overheard promising then-Russian President Dimitri Medvedev he would have more “flexibility” to deal with Moscow on the sensitive missile shield issue after he is re-elected. The Middle East officials further disclosed a White House pledge to Russia to ensure against an attack on Iran. Instead of an attack, the U.S. would press for growing mediation with Tehran on condition the Russians essentially stop supporting Assad.
For its part, Russia is demanding a U.S. pledge that there will be no international military deployment in Syria if Moscow accepts the U.S. conditions, the Middle East security officials said.