According to sources close to the Pentagon, the U.S. official is planning to convince his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, that the U.S. missile shield does not pose any threat to Russia, offering Moscow an open information exchange and inspections of construction sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.
In January, the U.S. announced plans to deploy a radar facility in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland to counter possible attacks from Iran or North Korea, whose nuclear programs have provoked serious international concerns.
Moscow has been strongly opposed to the U.S. plans, saying they would threaten Russia's security and destroy the strategic balance of forces in Europe.
Russia's first deputy prime minister reiterated last week that the placement of elements of the U.S. missile shield near Russian borders posed a serious concern for the country.
"This issue really concerns us. It is unclear this system is necessary in Eastern Europe - Poland and Czech Republic," Sergei Ivanov said, adding that the U.S. will attempt to explain the reasoning behind it.
Following a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels last week, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer moved to allay Russia's anxiety and said the placement of the U.S. missile shield would not change the strategic balance because Washington proposed to deploy only ten missile interceptors.
Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, earlier said that Washington was ready to allow Russian experts to inspect the likely missile site in Poland to show that it posed no threat to Moscow.
Meanwhile, the commander of Russia's Air Force said last Thursday that the U.S. missile defense elements planned for deployment in Central Europe do not pose danger for Russia.
"These systems are not especially dangerous for us... Their cost has more political than military weight," Army General Vladimir Mikhailov told journalists at the Gagarin Air Force Academy in the Moscow Region.
During the current visit, Gates and Serdyukov will also discuss the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), the recent U.S. foreign policy plan for 2007-2012 which irks Russia, and the situation in various regions of the world, including the Middle East, Iran and Iraq.