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A U.S. delegation will visit Moscow next week for talks
A U.S. delegation will visit Moscow next week for talks on missile defense in Europe, arms reduction and other strategic security issues, the State Department said.

The acting undersecretary for arms control and international security, John Rood, will lead the team of political and technical experts to Moscow on December 15, the State Department said on Friday in a statement.

The delegation will discuss "transparency and confidence-building measures regarding the proposed U.S. missile defense deployments in Europe," it said.

Moscow has fiercely opposed Washington's plans to deploy a missile defense system comprising 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic, saying it would damage Europe's security balance and threaten Russia's national security.

The administration of President George W. Bush, whose term ends on January 20, has tried to convince Moscow that the missile defense system is aimed at preventing possible strikes from "rogue" states.

The State Department said the talks would also focus on "a follow-on agreement to the START Treaty, WMD [weapons of mass destruction] proliferation, combating WMD terrorism, and other non-proliferation issues."

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed by President George Bush senior and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, is set to expire in December next year. It places a limit of 6,000 strategic or long-range nuclear warheads on each side, and limits the number of delivery vehicles, such as bombers, land-based and submarine-based missiles, to 1,600 each.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that the signing of a new nuclear disarmament deal will only be possible if Washington abandons its plans to place elements of a U.S. missile shield in Europe.


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