Rice and Gates Will Fly In for Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Russia later this month for talks with their Russian counterparts, Interfax reported Tuesday.

Rice and Gates will discuss the Pentagon's missile-defense plans with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, following up on similar talks the officials held in October, Interfax reported, citing an anonymous source in the Russian government.

Washington has angered Moscow with its proposal to install 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a missile-tracking radar site in the Czech Republic, which Moscow believes are targeted against the Russian nuclear arsenal. U.S. officials say the missile shield is designed to prevent an attack from "rogue" states, especially Iran.

Spokesmen for the U.S. Embassy and the Foreign Ministry could not confirm whether Rice and Gates were coming.

Exact dates are still being worked out, but the talks are tentatively scheduled for March, the Interfax source said.

Besides missile defense, other topics on the table will include the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, START I and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the news agency reported.