Russia, US to hold talks under '2+2' format

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{image-Russia - USA, Flags1_13032008.jpg}Moscow, Mar 13: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov will hold talks with the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates, under the '2+2' format here on March 17-18.

A high-ranking Russian Foreign Ministry official told RIA Novosti news agency today that the talks will focus on US plans to deploy elements of its missile shield in Central Europe, Russia's unilateral moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and on a new strategic arms reduction treaty to replace START-I, which expires in December 2009.

''Our US partners will present proposals on confidence measures, allowing the presence of Russian officers at missile shield facilities in the Czech Republic and Poland, blocking the radar to prevent it being targeted at Russia and so that the interceptor missiles are not silo-based,'' the official said.

The US administration is planning to construct a base for 10 two-stage missile interceptors in Poland, modify its X-band radar on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific and relocate it to the Czech Republic, and to deploy a new forward-based radar to an unspecified location.

''These are measures of transparency and trust,'' the official said, adding they are ''not resolving the issue of creating a system to monitor missile threats throughout the world.'' ''But it still gives Russia the opportunity to see that the US unilateral actions, which Russia objects to, do not pose a direct threat to our country at the given moment,'' he said.

In October 2007, the two sides held talks under the '2+2' format in Moscow, but failed to agree on missile defence issues.


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