US and Russian officials discussed controversial plans in Washington to deploy a missile defence system in Eastern Europe.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak met with US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried on Monday in Washington to begin two days of discussions aimed at bridging differences over US plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic by 2013.
Russia views the system as a threat to its national security while the US insists that the missile defence shield is designed to counter Iran's growing ballistic missile threat. The issue has been at the centre of tense relations between Washington and Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed using a Russian site in Azerbaijan instead of deploying to Eastern Europe. US President George W Bush said he would consider Putin's offer but that it cannot be a substitute for the locations in Eastern Europe.
The two sides have planned further meetings to address their disagreements. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates plan to hold a combined meeting with their Russian counterparts this fall.