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Rumsfeld, Ivanov Discuss Nuclear Review, Terrorism

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2002 – U.S. and Russian defense leaders met reporters today and stressed progress the two countries have made in putting decades of mistrust behind them.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov conferred at the Pentagon and faced the press March 12-13. Ivanov also met with President Bush March 12 and will meet with Secretary of State Colin Powell before returning to Moscow.

Rumsfeld and Ivanov discussed the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. In the past week, press reports have alleged that classified versions of the review have the United States targeting Russia and other countries with nuclear weapons. Rumsfeld said the congressionally mandated Nuclear Posture Review is not an operational planning document.

"It sets out prudent requirements for deterrence in the 21st century," he said at today's press conference. "Without getting into the details, I can say the report says nothing about targeting any country with nuclear weapons. The United States targets no country on a day-to- day basis."

Rumsfeld said officials in the Russian Federation were briefed on the review in January. Ivanov was briefed personally, he added.

"President Bush and President (Vladimir) Putin have said many times the United States and Russia are no longer adversaries," Rumsfeld said. "It is true. Both Minister Ivanov and I have reaffirmed that in meetings the past few days."

Ivanov echoed many of Rumsfeld's statements. He said through a translator that he and the defense secretary are charged with helping forge a new strategic relationship between the two countries and to "strengthen our partnership in the face of new threats and challenges which are emerging in the world."

He said he would like to see an agreement on cuts to offensive nuclear weapons ready for Bush and Putin to sign when they meet in May in Moscow.

"We fully realize the current realities of nuclear potentials of Russia and the U.S. are not in line with today's realities and should be cut radically," Ivanov said. "We also believe there should be a legally binding document that is comprehensive and understandable for the whole world and would also reflect the transparency between the two countries."

Ivanov said U.S. and Russian nuclear experts have exchanged drafts of the agreement.

The two defense leaders also discussed the ongoing war against global terrorism. "I thanked him for Russia's strong support and for the effort to root out terrorist networks that threaten our people and our way of life," Rumsfeld said. "That cooperation is certainly a symbol of what is possible between our countries."

Ivanov said a clear tie exists between Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and members of the rebel group in Chechnya. He said his government has passed names of suspected al Qaeda members to the United States. Ivanov also said the United States has given a detailed briefing on U.S. aid to the Georgian government. The aid, in the form of equipment and training, is aimed at allowing the Georgians to stop international terrorists from using the Pankisi Gorge area as a haven.

Rumsfeld said the United States is not going into the Pankisi Gorge. "We are sending over a relatively modest number of trainers to assist them in training."

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