WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is keen on keeping lines of communication open with Russia on missile defense, the U.S. Defense Department said.
Defense Department spokesman George Little confirmed Hagel spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu about the need to continue negotiations on regional missile defense plans.
"Minister Shoygu expressed his desire to reconvene missile defense discussions with the U.S. at the deputy minister level," Little said in a statement. "Secretary Hagel agreed and reiterated that this is an important part of U.S.-Russian relations."
U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe are touted as a means to respond to aggression from adversaries like Iran or North Korea. The Russian government said the missile plans may upset the regional balance of power, however.
Hagel announced plans to scale back missile defense options in Poland. The Defense Department said it would respond to North Korean threats with defensive measures on the U.S. West Coast.
Little said direct bilateral discussions over missile defense would be the responsibility of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Jim Miller.