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US, Russian Envoys to Begin Talks on New Arms Treaty


U.S. officials say envoys from the United States and Russia will meet in Geneva Thursday for talks on a new arms reduction treaty.

The officials say the State Department's Strategic and Missile Affairs chief, Jerry Taylor will head the U.S. delegation in talks that will alternate between the American and Russian missions in Geneva until November 21. The discussions will focus on replacing the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expires next year.

Separately, Russian news agencies are quoting an unnamed Kremlin official as saying their country has formally rejected a U.S. plan to build a missile defense system in central Europe.

The official said Russia is ready to cooperate with the United States on European security. But he described as inadequate the latest U.S. efforts to allay Russian concerns about the missile system.

The United States wants to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and guidance radar in the Czech Republic.

U.S. officials say the system is aimed at protecting its European allies from missile attacks from Iran. But Moscow says it threatens Russia's traditional sphere of influence and will lead to a new arms race.

Meanwhile, U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns is in Moscow for talks with Russian defense officials. Burns is the most senior U.S. official to visit Moscow since Russia's August military incursion into Georgia.

Last week, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said his country will deploy short-range missiles on European Union borders in response to the U.S. missile shield plan. He also said Russian equipment will electronically jam operation of the U.S. missile shield.

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

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