Russia, US to hold talks on missile shield in Moscow, next week

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Moscow, Oct 5 (UNI) Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed today that top Russian and US defence officials and diplomats would meet in Moscow on October 12-13 to continue discussions on missile defence in Europe.

''We are confirming the date for the meeting,'' a Foreign Ministry spokesman told RIA Novosti news agency.

Talks between Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates will also be attended by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he said.

Russia has strongly opposed US plans to deploy a missile interceptor base in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic, describing them a threat to its national security.

The United States has said it needed better protection from rogue states like Iran and North Korea.

Talks in Moscow are expected to focus on Russia's alternative proposal to the US to use its radars in Gabala, in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, instead of deploying facilities in Europe, as well as the moratorium on the Soviet-era arms reduction CFE treaty, imposed by Russia recently.

Meanwhile, the state Duma, lower house of parliament, passed a resolution today urging Warsaw and Prague to hold an inter-parliamentary conference on the US missile shield plans.

''Arguments in favour of deploying missile systems in the centre of Europe to protect NATO members from a hypothetic threat emanating from Iran and North Korea are implausible,'' the resolution said.

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

UNI

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