BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday denounced a U.S. plan to deploy missile defense sites in Eastern Europe, calling it a threat to the region.
Ahmadinejad spoke at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia, China and four ex-Soviet Central Asian countries. Iran has observer status in the SCO.
The U.S. says it wants to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic to deflect potential threats from Iran. But Russia has objected to the initiative as a threat to its own security and the balance of forces in Europe.
Ahmadinejad said "these intentions go beyond just one country. They are of concern for much of the continent, Asia and SCO members."
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the summit that "any attempts to solve global and regional problems unilaterally are hopeless" and called for "strengthening a multi-polar international system that would ensure equal security and opportunities for all countries."
He did not mention the United States, but Russia has frequently complained about U.S. dominance over world affairs.
Washington is closely watching the SCO summit in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. The U.S. has an air base near Bishkek, and the SCO has called for a timetable for withdrawing American military presence from member countries.
The SCO emerged 11 years ago to address religious extremism and border security in Central Asia. China and Russia have been pushing to strengthen the group since the U.S. set up air bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to support the anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan evicted its U.S. base in 2005.
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