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Let’s Be Partners: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that his discussions with Russian officials, including President Vladmir Putin, had a “very positive tone.” However, although he believes the discussion helped clear up some misunderstanding about the US plan to position missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, Gates told reporters afterwards that he didn’t “want to characterize this more optimistically than perhaps is warranted.” He said that the US and Russia will form a working group at the expert level to address technical details. Gates explained that he believes the Russians do not believe the missile defenses pose an immediate threat to Russia, but they are concerned about “the character of these sites might change” somewhere down the road. And, Gates noted that the Russians “share some of our concerns about Iran,” but they don’t see an Iranian threat to Western Europe in the “foreseeable future.” Gates said he urged them to “look at this strategically,” say 10 to 20 years out. “Based on my own experience in the intelligence world, anyone who would argue that Iran and other countries in the Middle East might not have missiles of that kind of range and capability would be making a very risky assessment,” declared Gates.