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NATO chief and Russia's Putin agree to meet soon

LAST UPDATED: 1:31 a.m. HST, Mar 8, 2012

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO says its top official will meet Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin to discuss ties which have deteriorated recently over the alliance's plan to deploy a missile shield.

A NATO statement Thursday says Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Putin agreed in a telephone conversation on the need for good and stable ties. It said they would meet "in the not too distant future."

The Western military alliance says its planned missile defense program is aimed at potential threats from nations which have or are acquiring missile technology. But analysts believe the shield is meant to protect Europe from Iran's medium-range missiles.

Russia has objected to the program, fearing it will eventually grow powerful enough to intercept Russian missiles, thus undermining its nuclear deterrent.

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