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Russian, U.S. Brass Meet On Syria, Missile Defense

Russian General of the Army Nikolai Makarov (right) is introduced by U.S. Chief of Staff General Patrick Dempsey (center) during a full honor cordon at the Pentagon in Washington on July 12.
The top U.S. military officer has held talks with his Russian counterpart in Washington on missile defense and the Syria crisis.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted Russian armed forces chief Nikolai Makarov, the country's first deputy defense minister.

The talks at the Pentagon focused mainly on plans for a NATO-backed missile-defense shield in Europe, according to a statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Efforts to set up the project have angered Moscow, which wants guarantees that the system would not be aimed at or used against it.

The two military leaders also discussed the war in Afghanistan, developments in the Middle East, as well as Washington's strategic focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

Russia and the United States have disagreed over how the international community should respond to ongoing violence in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad's regime has waged a deadly battle against insurrection and dissent since Arab Spring-style unrest began in March 2011. International sources put the number of deaths so far well above 10,000, many of them women and children.

Overnight on July 12-13, opposition activists in Syria accused government troops of using tanks and helicopters to massacre more than 200 people in the central province of Hama. London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the massacre occurred in village of Tremseh.

Also, a report in "The Wall Street Journal" suggests U.S. officials are concerned over part of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal being moved out of storage facilities.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and ITAR-TASS