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ROME (AP) – Russia’s foreign minister warned Wednesday that his country’s differences with the United States over missile defense could affect strategic security worldwide.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov issued the warning after meeting for two hours with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on the sidelines of a Group of Eight foreign ministers’ conference in Rome, a prelude to the summit starting Friday in the northern port city of Genoa.

Russia opposes the American missile program, which it says would shatter existing arms control treaties and possibly trigger another arms race.

Powell said his meeting was “very, very friendly,” and Ivanov said Russia was open to “a constructive dialogue” on missile defense.

“The success of this dialogue will, by and large, determine the strategic stability of the entire world,” Ivanov said.

Both men shied away from questions about what incentives the United States could offer Russia to overcome its objections to missile defense.

“One isn’t talking here about trade-offs and give and take,” Ivanov said. “What we’re talking about here are serious issues related to strategic stability in all its dimensions and aspects.”

Rather than “try to bribe” Russia, Powell said, the United States wants to put the issue in the context of its wider relationship with Russia, a relation that includes “trade and economic elements.”

Although Europeans, too, are skeptical about missile defense, Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino congratulated the United States on a successful test over the weekend and, in an interview Wednesday with the daily Corriere della Sera, said the system showed promise.

In the Powell-Ivanov meeting and later, during the ministers’ conference, talks turned to conflicts in Macedonia and the Middle East.

Negotiations between the ethnic Albanian minority and the Macedonia majority are faltering, prompting fears the talks could break down, wrecking a cease-fire between insurgents and government troops.

Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero said support for negotiations in Macedonia was high on the agenda.

The ministers’ conference, which ends Thursday, is the final countdown to the Genoa summit. Ruggiero said Wednesday’s talks also touched on poverty and AIDS in Africa and how to prevent conflicts.

The ministers are trying to forge an agenda for their bosses, the leaders of the Group of Eight countries – the United States, Italy, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Britain and Russia.

The summit, like most international meetings over the past two years, is drawing thousands of demonstrators crusading for a variety of causes. Violence is expected and security in Genoa is extremely tight.

In contrast, the Rome meeting was relatively low-key. The ministers worked through the afternoon, pausing only to pose for a group photograph, and then had a working dinner.

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A final communique was expected Thursday.

In another sideline session, European Union officials met with Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka and urged Japan to stick with the Kyoto accord on global warming.

Although the European Union is not part of the Group of Eight, it is represented at the Rome conference.

The accord can only enter into force if backed by 55 countries, representing 55 percent of the industrialized world’s emissions of so-called “greenhouse” gases. Without the United States, Japanese support is now critical for the treaty.

Anticipating violence, authorities have deployed some 20,000 police and soldiers in the ancient port city, blocked off entrances to the summit site with steel gratings, and shutting down the harbor and train stations.

A series of bombs and bomb scares around Italy have caused pre-summit worries.

Two small parcel bombs exploded Wednesday in the offices of Italian clothing giant Benetton and at a television station owned by Premier Silvio Berlusconi. The secretary who opened the parcel that was addressed to the news director of the Milan Tg4 news show was slightly injured.

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