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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Missile Defense to Top Rice's Visit Next Week

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Moscow on May 15 as the United States seeks to calm disputes with Russia on missile defense, Kosovo and other issues, the State Department said Monday.

"There are a lot of issues to talk about in the U.S.-Russia strategic relationship, spanning from nuclear nonproliferation to missile defense to the development of democracy in Russia," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

McCormack said it was up to the Russians whether Rice would meet with President Vladimir Putin, although he said Putin has seen her on such visits in the past.

Putin caught the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush off guard with a Feb. 10 speech in Munich in which he accused the United States of seeking to impose its will on the world.

Asked whether Rice would seek clarification of the speech, McCormack said he did not know, but added, "I am sure they are going to talk about the tone and tenor and substance of the U.S.-Russia relationship."

Washington has angered Russia and unsettled some European allies with a plan to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic from 2012 to help shield Europe from possible missile attack by nations such as Iran.

In Moscow, a top general said Monday that there was no link between the missile defense shield and Putin's decision last week to impose a moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.

"After the president's announcement that Russia was declaring a moratorium, our colleagues, especially abroad ... have tried to say it was an answer in part to what the Americans are doing in Europe. No, and again no," Yury Baluyevsky, head of the General Staff, told reporters.

The CFE Treaty sets limits on the quantity, type and location of conventional armaments European countries can maintain.

Putin said it was an anachronism that Russia should be restricted in how it can deploy its armed forces, while NATO countries used pretexts to bend the terms of the treaty.

"I think you probably felt it, too -- they were scared by the president's words," Baluyevsky said of NATO.

He said NATO was insisting that Russia fulfill commitments under the 1999 Istanbul agreements, "but they understand there is no link between the CFE Treaty and the decisions made in Istanbul."

Baluyevsky said Russia would plan to counter the missile defense system if it were deployed, but declined to give details, joking that he would be divulging a state secret if he revealed how.

"If we see that from these installations, which could be created in Poland and the Czech Republic, then we will of course plan our actions against them," Baluyevsky said.

"There could be very many answers -- but believe me, they will be significantly cheaper than what the United States is doing now."