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US, Russian missile defence experts to meet

world Updated: Dec 09, 2007 08:49 IST

Top US and Russian missile policy experts will meet for cooperation talks in Budapest on December 13, the US State Department has said, amid tensions over Washington's plans for a defence shield in Europe.

US negotiators will discuss ideas "and proposals for US-Russia missile defence cooperation as well as radar cooperation to jointly monitor ballistic missile threats launched out of the Middle East," read a State Department statement on Saturday.

"These proposals represent the most far-reaching strategic cooperation ever proposed between our two countries and offer a real strategic partnership on missile defence, including the opportunity to work together on a joint regional missile defence architecture," read the statement.

Washington is pushing ahead with planned missile defence sites in the Czech Republic and Poland even as a new US assessment downgraded the nuclear threat from Iran.

US officials say the plans are necessary to protect European allies from a potential missile strike from "rogue" states, especially Iran. The plans have angered Russia, which sees them as a threat to its security.

A new US intelligence community assessment released this week on Iran's nuclear ambitions found that the Islamic republic froze an atomic bomb programme in 2003.

The US delegation to the Hungarian capital will be led by Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Rood, and the Russian delegation by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, the State Department said.