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Gates Meets Russian Cadets, Rice Meets Human Rights Activists


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Washington is ready to work with Russia on common security threats.

In a speech Saturday at the Military Academy in Moscow, Gates said no nation has suffered more from the wars of the last century than Russia. He told the military cadets that the U.S. success in the 1991 Gulf War came from modernization ideas adapted from the Soviet military in the 1980s.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who also is in Moscow, met with eight human rights activists to seek their opinions and assessments of the situation in Russia. Rice said Washington wants to help them build strong democratic institutions to protect people from arbitrary state power.

Western governments have expressed concern about the centralization of power in Russia and democratic backsliding ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections there.

Gates and Rice met top Russian officials Friday and today, but failed to resolve a range of difficult strategic issues, including U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the U.S. should abandon the idea, while Washington says it needs the system in Poland and the Czech Republic to counter threats from states such as Iran and North Korea.

Mr. Putin also told the visiting U.S. officials Russia might pull out of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which bars an entire class of missiles, unless it is expanded to cover other countries with nuclear weapons.

Mr. Putin has proposed that Russia and the U.S. cooperate on a system at an existing former Soviet missile radar site in Azerbaijan. But Gates said that radar would not be fully able to cope with the task.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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