Rumsfeld Begins 10-day Overseas Trip in London
American Forces Press Service
LONDON, June 5, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived this morning in London on the first stop in a 10-day trip to several parts of the world.
U.S. Ambassador William S. Farish met Rumsfeld at RAF Northholt, outside London, and accompanied him to meetings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Minister of Defence Geoffrey Hoon.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is met by U.S. Ambassador William S. Farish on arrival June 5, 2002, at RAF Northholt, outside London. Rumsfeld is on a 10-day mission that includes other stops in Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Southwest Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen Rhem, USA.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Britain has been the staunchest U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, and Blair has shown President Bush unwavering support. Rumsfeld said in a Pentagon press conference June 4 that, among other things, he intends to thank the British for their strong support.
Rumsfeld and Hoon then travel together to Brussels, Belgium, for two days of talks among the defense ministers of NATO countries. Rumsfeld has said he will also meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in Brussels.
Talks in Belgium are expected to focus on the threat posed if weapons of mass destruction fall into the hands of terrorist organizations or terrorist-supporting states. The upcoming decision to admit several new countries into NATO will also figure highly in the talks.
After Brussels, Rumsfeld will visit NATO AWACS crews in Geilenkirchen, Germany, who patrolled U.S. skies for several months after Sept. 11. He'll also attend the annual meeting of Nordic-Baltic defense ministers in Tallinn, Estonia, before heading to Southwest Asia to meet with American allies in the Persian Gulf region.
This trip will also likely include visits to India and Pakistan in an effort to defuse escalating tensions over Kashmir, a disputed region between the two countries. Details on the visits are scarce. Rumsfeld has said he prefers to deliver his message to Indian and Pakistani leaders in person first, not through the press.