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Top US, Russian Diplomats to Open Security Talks in Moscow Friday

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates open strategic security talks in Moscow Friday with their Russian counterparts, in a push to narrow differences over U.S. missile plans in Europe.

Diplomats say the two-day talks are aimed at easing Russian worries over a U.S. plan to deploy missile interceptors and guidance technology in Poland and the Czech Republic. The State Department says the talks also will cover arms limitations and the future of Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced strong opposition to the U.S. missile plan, saying such a deployment will threaten regional stability and trigger a new arms race. He has alternately proposed sharing with the United States an existing former Soviet missile radar site in Azerbaijan.

Russia also has voiced strong opposition to a United Nations proposal for granting independence to Kosovo.

Envoys from Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority held their first -face-to-face talks last month and are to renew them Sunday. The current round of talks is set to end December 10 with recommendations that will be presented to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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