Rice Says Missile Plans Can Be Refined

BRUSSELS -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe could be refined to suit Russian concerns.

Her statement came a day after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of backtracking. Rice and Lavrov will meet Friday at a NATO meeting in Brussels. Rice said that as details emerge of the U.S. plan, "perhaps there are things the Russians thought might be there that are not there."

Rice also said it would be "regrettable" if Russia decided not to return to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. President Vladimir Putin last week signed a law suspending Russia's participation in the treaty, which would allow it to deploy more forces close to Western Europe. A Russian diplomat said Thursday that the forces would not expand their presence if NATO avoided a military buildup.