Rumsfeld Trip Includes NATO, India, Pakistan, Mideast Stops
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 3, 2002 The war on terrorism and relations between India and Pakistan represent two hot topics on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's agenda as he begins a trip tomorrow that will span Europe, South Asia and the Middle East, senior DoD officials said today.
The secretary's European schedule features a stop in London to meet with the British Secretary of State for Defense Geoffrey Hoon. Moving on to Brussels, Belgium, Rumsfeld is to attend multilateral North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministerial meetings, including first-ever NATO- Russia Committee talks, a senior DoD official noted.
The London and Brussels meetings will feature updates on the war against terrorism, he said. Another topic of discussion in Brussels, he noted, will involve selection of new NATO members during November meetings slated in Prague, Czech Republic.
Slated for discussion in Brussels will be possible NATO- Russia cooperative initiatives such as training and sharing airspace security information, an official said. Talks in Brussels will also focus on new NATO capabilities such as military air cargo and troop deployment issues, and the revamping of the alliance's command, control and communications systems.
Rumsfeld is scheduled to visit a NATO AWACS facility in Germany. He is to fly on to the Estonian capital of Tallinn to meet senior defense representatives from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of whom want to join NATO.
Rumsfeld will also visit India and Pakistan, a senior DoD official said, to meet with their senior defense officials and to help lessen current bellicose relations between the two South Asian nuclear powers.
The secretary will also go to Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait to meet senior officials, the official said, adding that the three countries have been helpful in providing support to the United States in the global war against terrorism. At this point, he said, it's unclear whether the secretary will visit South Asia or the Middle East first.
The length of the trip, a senior DoD official said, could extend into the end of next week. Other countries could be added to the secretary's trip itinerary, another official noted.