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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rice Slips in Her Plea to Russia

OSLO -- In a slip of the tongue, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke Thursday of the "Soviet" nuclear arsenal even as she urged Russia to abandon Cold War thinking.

"Let's be real about this and realistic about this, the idea that somehow 10 interceptors and a few radars in Eastern Europe are going to threaten the Soviet strategic deterrent is purely ludicrous and everybody knows it," Rice told reporters before NATO talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Rice said Washington wanted to keep discussing the issue with Moscow based on a "realistic" assessment rather than "one that is grounded somehow in the '80s."

Russian officials and generals have revived Cold War language in criticizing the U.S. plan to install radar scanners in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. Washington says the deployment is aimed at protecting Europe and North America from a growing threat of missile strike by North Korea or Iran. Moscow says the plan aims to target Russia's strategic missile arsenal.

The Russian rhetoric has unnerved some in Western Europe, who fear the negative impact on relations with the Kremlin may outweigh any benefits of the missile shield.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said he needed to hear more from the United States. "I remain to be convinced about the nature of the threats and the way to respond to them," he told reporters after meeting Rice.

NATO diplomats, however, said there was growing support for the U.S. plans among European governments.

The missile debate was expected to dominate two days of talks among NATO foreign ministers, who will also focus on efforts to back up the alliance's military mission in Afghanistan, and a split between Russia and Western powers over the future of Kosovo. Lavrov joined the talks after an opening session among the 26 NATO allies.

A Soviet specialist, Rice served on the White House National Security Council from 1989 to March 1991, a period that included the fall of the Berlin Wall and the waning days of the Soviet Union.

Reuters, AP