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U.S.'s Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates to visit Moscow soon

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The U.S. defense secretary and the U.S. secretary of state will soon pay official visits to the Russian capital, the Russian Security Council secretary said Tuesday.
MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. defense secretary and the U.S. secretary of state will soon pay official visits to the Russian capital, the Russian Security Council secretary said Tuesday.

Igor Ivanov said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will arrive in Moscow next week, while U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might visit Moscow in May.

He said the high-ranking U.S. officials will consult with their Russian counterparts on a number of issues, including U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile shield in Central Europe, which Russia sees as a threat to its national security.

"We intend to express our [Russian] vision concerning these plans from the point of view of Russian and international security," Ivanov said.

In January, the United States announced plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland to counter possible attacks from Iran or North Korea, whose nuclear programs have provoked serious international concerns.

Russia, which has been anxious about NATO bases that have appeared in former Communist-bloc countries and ex-Soviet republics, has blasted the plans to deploy anti-missile systems in Central Europe as a national security threat and a destabilizing factor for Europe.

"One can say that this [antimissile] umbrella will cover our allies, but who will be holding this umbrella?" he said.

Diplomatic sources in Brussels said in March that the Russia-NATO Council is expected to consider the U.S. missile defense plans April 19.

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