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Russian President, German Chancellor to Hold Security Talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Germany for two days of talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on issues as Iran and U.S. plans for a missile shield in eastern Europe.

Germany has joined the United States and much of the European Union in demanding tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Russia has said the threat of new sanctions gets in the way of negotiating with Iran. Mr. Putin has also said he sees no objective evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon.

Chancellor Merkel has insisted that Washington consult NATO over plans to build a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia opposes the plans, saying the system threatens its security.

After talks in Moscow Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rejected Mr. Putin's call to freeze plans for the system.

Rice said the United States will continue deployment talks with its allies, despite Moscow's opposition to the plan.

Russia has said a U.S. missile deployment in Poland and guidance radar in the Czech Republic will destabilize eastern Europe and lead to a new arms race. The Bush administration says the shield is aimed at protecting the United States and its allies from missile attacks from what it calls rogue states.

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