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Russia, U.S. to talk European missile defense in Moscow Oct. 12

RIA Novosti

05/10/2007 14:45 MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday that top Russian and U.S. defense officials and diplomats would meet in Moscow on October 12-13 to continue discussions on missile defense in Central Europe.

"We are confirming the date for the meeting," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Talks between Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will also be attended by the two countries' top diplomats, Sergei Lavrov and Condoleezza Rice.

Russia strongly opposes Washington's plans, announced early this year, to place a missile interceptor base in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic considering them a threat to its national security. The United States says it needs better protection from rogue states like Iran and North Korea.

Talks in Moscow are expected to focus on Russia's proposal that the U.S. use its radars instead of deploying facilities in Europe, as well as the moratorium on the Soviet-era arms reduction CFE treaty Russia imposed in the wake of the dispute.

Russia's State Duma, lower house of parliament, passed a statement on Friday urging Warsaw and Prague to hold an inter-parliamentary conference on the U.S. missile shield plans.

Opposition parties in Poland and the Czech Republic are against the plans, as is public opinion in both countries.

"Arguments in favor of deploying [missile] systems in the center of Europe to protect NATO members from a hypothetic threat emanating from Iran and North Korea are implausible," lawmakers said in the statement.

Russian lawmakers said new bases would also weaken mutual trust affecting efforts against international terrorism and other security challenges.

Europe's human rights watchdog cancelled a debate on the political consequences of deploying the U.S. missile defense elements, when opening its fall session on October 1 after the majority of PACE members voted against the Russia-proposed debate.

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