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Rumsfeld, Ivanov Meet in Moscow

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

MOSCOW, Russia, April 29, 2002 – The relationship between the United States and Russia today goes beyond arms control, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

It is "different in breadth and dimension" from the past, he said.

After meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov for more than two hours, the two met with reporters.

"Over the decades the relationship has tended to be about arms control," Rumsfeld said. "I wouldn't want to leave the impression that that's the way it is."

The relationship is "evolving in a way that the discussions we have today are not simply about arms control," Rumsfeld said, "but rather it is a multifaceted relationship that involves political, economic as well as security issues. The discussions Minister Ivanov and I have from time-to- time cover a full-range of subjects, as they should between two nations that are no longer enemies."

Rumsfeld arrived at Moscow International Airport this morning. It was his final stop on a five-day trip to Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

The two defense leaders discussed the situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia, the global war on terrorism and strategic arms reductions.

On Afghanistan, Rumsfeld cited the progress to date. "The Taliban are no longer running the country. The al Qaeda is not currently using Afghanistan as a training camp and bases for launching terrorist attacks on innocent people around the world. An interim government is in place and taking a series of steps in the process of stabilizing the country.

"A transitional government should follow the interim government in the months ahead," he continued. "That's on the plus side. The last plus is that the people of Afghanistan are a lot better off than they were six months ago."

On the minus side the task in Afghanistan is far from over, he said. He emphasized that the country "is still a dangerous place" and that Taliban members who haven't been captured or killed have crossed "borders and gone into the mountains and into the villages."

"There's no doubt in my mind that they'd like to come back and take over that country," he said. "The coalition partners, from countries across the globe that are cooperating, intend to see that that doesn't happen. There's still a lot to do. And there will be more violence between now and the time it's over."

Ivanov said Russia is also interested in seeing the situation in Afghanistan stabilized. Russian officials assessment of the situation is very close to that of the United States, he said.

The two defense ministers then discussed the status of negotiations to reduce strategic nuclear weapons.

Defense and State department officials are crafting a legally binding strategic arms agreement that might be ready for presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin to sign at a summit in May. The American and Russian leaders are slated to meet May 23-26 in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The United States has about 6,000 nuclear warheads. The plan, based on the Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review, would cut the arsenal to around 2,800 warheads by fiscal 2007 and to between 1,700 and 2,000 operationally deployed warheads by fiscal 2012.

"Both sides are pretty relaxed about the fact that we are taking the reductions," a senior official traveling with Rumsfeld said. "We've started the reductions. They're continuing their reductions. Whether or not we have the details worked out in this agreement, in this timeframe anyway, is not necessarily going to be a make-or-break issue for the summit."

The Nuclear Posture Review concluded the United States must be able to respond to unforeseen changes in the security environment, the official told reporters. U.S. officials concluded that a U.S. strategy that relies solely on offensive nuclear forces is inappropriate for deterring potential 21st century adversaries.

The official said the U.S. nuclear weapons complex is not in a position to respond well to those changes by producing new weapons or warheads that might go on existing systems.

"We felt it was prudent to hang on to a portion of those systems and give us the flexibility to respond to those changes, if necessary, as we draw down the operationally deployed force," he said.

For the last 20 or 30 years, he added, the focus of arms control has been on drawing down "those weapons that are actually on top of existing missiles and that are available for use on bomber weapons or in bomber forces." Previous arms control agreements did not require the destruction of warheads, he said.

The Russians want a legally binding arrangement that will go beyond the terms of the two presidents, the official said. "We're trying to work with them and fashion an arrangement that satisfies (their) requirement, but at the same time provides the flexibility that we think is necessary in the uncertain security environment we are in today."

Bush believes Putin has made "a strategic decision to move toward the West, and it's important that we attempt to reinforce that in ways that strengthen him," the official said. The arms agreement would be one way U.S. officials think would help support Putin, he said.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Transcript: Background Briefing en route to Moscow, April 29, 2002
DoD News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Joint Media Availability with Minister Ivanov, April 29, 2002

Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov at an April 28, 2002, press conference in Moscow. Rumsfeld said the U.S.-Russian relationship today goes beyond arms control and is "different in breadth and dimension" from the past. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn  
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