Putin, Medvedev to meet Rice, Gates over US missile shield

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Moscow, Mar 17 (UNI) Russian outgoing President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev will hold talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates who are arriving in Moscow today for talks over missile defence.

''A meeting between Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev and, Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates will take place in the Kremlin today,'' a Kremlin official said.

Ms Rice and Mr Gates would hold second round of talks with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov within the ''2+2'' format over the US plans to deploy a radar in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland, which Russia has strongly opposed as threat to its national security.

Mr Gates was reported as saying that the US would offer no new proposals in Moscow and wants the Kremlin to make the next move.

''We have put a lot on the table and now it is time for them to reciprocate,'' RIA Novosti news agency quoted Mr Gates as saying.

Washington offered at the talks in Moscow, in last October, to allow Russian officials access to the proposed sites to ensure the radar was not targeted at Russia and interceptor missiles were kept non-operational until Iran's long-range missiles have been proved as a threat.

Russian Foreign Ministry said the US and Russian officials would also exchange opinions on 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.

UNI XC PD GC1628

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