( AP ) - The United States on Wednesday submitted a formal proposal to Russia for cooperation on missile defense in eastern Europe, seeking to defuse an issue that has increased tensions between the two countries.
Addressing another contentious issue, the U.S. also submitted a proposal that it hoped would discourage Moscow from withdrawing from a key European arms control treaty.
Both issues have contributed to U.S.-Russian relations worsening to the lowest point since the Cold War. The proposals had been discussed in negotiations between the two nations, but Russia insisted on having them in writing before continuing talks.
U.S. and Russian officials declined to release the documents. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to discuss them Monday ahead of Middle East peace talks in Annapolis, Md.
The documents deal with U.S. plans to install a radar in the Czech Republic and missile interceptors in Poland and Russian plans to suspend participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, known as CFE.
The United States says the missile defense system is intended to counter Iranian missiles that could be aimed at Europe or U.S. territory. Russia contends the system also could be used against Russian missiles, which would make it a threat to its nuclear deterrence.
A senior U.S. official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution, said the missile defense document included proposals that Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates made in talks in Moscow last month.
The offers include:
_Integrating U.S., Russian and NATO missile defense systems to expand protection of both Russia and the West.
_Allowing Russian experts to make regular inspections of the U.S. site in Poland. U.S. officials have emphasized that the offer is contingent on approval from Poland.
_Delaying the activation of the U.S. missile interceptors until it is clear that Iran can reach Europe with ballistic missiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed in June to share a Russian-leased early warning radar in the ex-Soviet Azerbaijan with the United States. While the offer was intended as a way of jointly monitoring the threat from Iran, the U.S. is pressing to integrate the radar and others into a joint missile defense system.
Russian officials have reacted positively to the proposal of delaying activation of the interceptors. But Russian negotiators insist that the offer include a binding treaty that would detail specific terms for activation, said a Russian official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment. The United States would likely object to such a demand.
Neither the U.S. nor the Russian official would provide details of the arms control treaty proposal.
The 1990 treaty limits the deployment of tanks, aircraft and heavy conventional weapons across Europe. Negotiators agreed to revise the treaty in 1999, but the United States and other NATO members have not ratified it.
The United States says Moscow first must fulfill obligations to withdraw forces from Georgia and from Moldova's separatist Trans-Dniester region. The Kremlin has said there should be no link.
Russia says the old version has lost relevance because former Soviet satellites have joined NATO. But Putin says the decision to withdraw from the treaty was also in response to the U.S. missile defense plan.