Rumsfeld, Ivanov Help Set Stage for Bush, Putin Summit
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MOSCOW, Nov. 3, 2001 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld met here today with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov to discuss cooperation on the war on terrorism and ways to further the new U.S.-Russia relationship.
Rumsfeld said his meetings were productive and helped "clear the underbrush" for the meetings set Nov. 16-18 between Putin and President Bush.
The secretary met Ivanov at the Russian Defense Ministry and then both journeyed to the Kremlin to confer with Putin. Following that meeting, Rumsfeld and Ivanov took questions from the press.
Both men agreed on the threat that weapons of mass destruction would be in the hands of terrorist groups. Rumsfeld said during the Defense Ministry meeting that the events of Sept. 11 prove that countering the proliferation of these weapons is a goal both countries can embrace.
Ivanov agreed, saying the current international situation and prospects of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction dictate closer cooperation between the United States and Russia. "In this situation we have good prospects to move quickly forward," he said through a translator.
Ivanov reiterated that Russians don't want the United States to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, but said he recognized America's sovereign right to do so. He then stated the Russian position: "Russia and the United States must look to the future, and this was reaffirmed today," Ivanov said. "But before eliminating an agreement, we believe it will be better when something new is in place."
"Something new" might be a new agreement on limiting offensive nuclear weapons. "The issue of offensive strategic weapons is also important and we discussed it today," Ivanov said. "I believe that we will continue discussing this issue, and we will follow the way of reducing strategic offensive arms in a transparent and open verification regime."
The talk of verification regimes brought back memories of long, drawn- out nuclear reduction negotiations. The United States would like to accomplish nuclear cuts quickly and without all these years of negotiations, DoD officials said. Earlier this year, Rumsfeld said the United States does not have these kinds of arms control treaties with Great Britain or France and would like to see the day when they are not needed with Russia.
But the talks were amicable. "I have an impression that neither side wants to single out some differences -- I would not call them disagreements," Ivanov said. "We want to work constructively in areas that we are close to each other." As he said this, Rumsfeld nodded his head.