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Russia, US to hold missile defense talks
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US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will travel to Russia next week for a new round of missile defense talks, Russian news agencies reported Thursday.

"In line with agreements reached at the top level, Rice and Gates will pay a working visit to Moscow on March 17-18 to hold negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in the two plus two format," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

A high-ranking source at the Russian Foreign Ministry was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying that the consultations in the "two plus two" format would discuss the anti-missile defense system, treaties on conventional armed forces in Europe and the strategic offensive weapons.

"Americans will bring proposals," the source said.

Tensions between Russia and the United States on missile defense issues remain high, as both sides failed to agree on any key points during their talks in Moscow last October.

The two sides failed to overcome differences on the US plan to deploy 10 ballistic missile interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic, as well as Russia's proposals to extend the START-1 (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) which expires in 2012.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2008)

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