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Russian, U.S. officials to discuss missile defense in Budapest

RIA Novosti

12/12/2007 14:11 MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) - High-ranking diplomats from Russia and the United States will meet in Budapest on Thursday to discuss an ongoing missile defense dispute, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

U.S. plans to deploy a radar and a missile base in Central Europe purportedly to counter possible strikes from "rogue" states have angered Russia, which considers the plans a threat to its security. The sides have held a series of failed talks on the issue.

"The Hungarian capital will host on Thursday the next round of discussions on problems relating to our countries' cooperation in missile defense," the diplomat said.

The two delegations will be led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak and U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation John Rood.

Washington also resumed negotiations with Czech officials on Tuesday on its missile defense plans.

The deployment of the radar in the Czech Republic is set to cost U.S. taxpayers $260 million, the Czech CTK news agency reported, citing the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

Moscow, already unnerved by NATO's expansion to former Warsaw Pact member states, has responded angrily to the plans, saying the European missile shield would destroy the strategic balance of forces and threaten Russia's national interests.

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