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Rumsfeld to Discuss ABM, Other Issues With Russians

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MOSCOW, Nov. 3, 2001 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Russian officials will discuss the whole range of issues between the countries during meetings in Moscow Nov. 3.

Rumsfeld, during an in-flight press conference, called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "stalwart," given his support of the worldwide antiterrorism effort. The secretary said he would meet with Putin and Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov to discuss the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Russian aid to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance and other issues. These will be the last high- level discussions between the countries before Putin's trip to the United States to meet with President Bush.

Rumsfeld said it was important that leaders discuss all aspects of the developing relationship between the two countries. Political, economic and security issues should not be viewed in a vacuum -- all these issues are intertwined, he said. "We have always tried to see that these were linked together, because they are in the minds of our citizens," he said.

The secretary championed this new relationship when he was last in Moscow. He said during an Aug. 13 meeting at the ITAR/TASS news agency that Russia needed to decide whether its future lay with the West or not.

"I think there is a great deal of evidence that President Putin and his team have made the decision that they wish to have closer relationships with Western Europe and the United States," he said. "(The process) isn't something where you start here and end up there. It is a path you travel, and (Putin's) administration has been traveling that path."

Since Rumsfeld last met with Ivanov, the Russians have dropped objections to NATO expansion, given strong support to the war on terrorism and expressed a willingness to discuss the ABM Treaty.

Rumsfeld arrives in Moscow with the ABM Treaty still intact. He canceled some ballistic missile defense tests because of a possibility they might violate the 1972 pact. "The treaty is there and the United States doesn't break treaties," he said. Still, the Russians know the United States intends to deploy a limited missile defense system.

Rumsfeld will also discuss offensive nuclear weapons with the Russians. He is not going to reveal any numbers, but did say that research on the Nuclear Posture Review will aid Bush as he sits down with Putin. Although the review will not be finished until mid-December, he said, U.S. planners will be able to extract enough information to proceed confidently with the Russians.

He said his recommendation from the review "is not a number, it is a program."

The secretary also used the en route conference to try to dispel "urban myths" that have grown up around the war against terrorism.

For instance, he said, the United States is not "holding back" Northern Alliance groups from advancing until plans for a post-Taliban Afghan government are in place. He said the United Nations, United States and many groups inside and out of Afghanistan are indeed working on the question and will reach an accord, but when is up in the air.

In the meantime, he said, military action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban must continue. The United States and its allies cannot afford to sit back and wait for a political solution, he said, because the process is unpredictable.

"(To) wait for a process that's unpredictable would be mindless," Rumsfeld said. "We have not done it in the past. We are not doing it in the future. The implication that we have held them back is inaccurate."

Another myth is that the Northern Alliance is dissatisfied with U.S. support. "There is no the Northern Alliance," he said. "There are pieces of it spread across that country. There are factions and different tribal leaders and leaders of forces in any number of locations." Even within these factions and tribes are spread-out elements, he added.

"On any given day, you will find some that are happy and some that are mad," he said. "The ones that are most pleased are the ones that tend to be closest to the forces that we have on the ground that provide assistance with respect to targeting." The United States is placing such forces with opposition factions as fast as possible, he said.

Rumsfeld will only be in Russia a short while. He will leave in the afternoon of Nov. 3 and travel to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Both countries border Afghanistan and have provided help to the anti-terrorism coalition. He said relations with these countries are "evolving."

He will then fly to Pakistan for meetings with senior leaders in Islamabad. He praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's stance on countering terrorism. U.S. troops are operating out of Pakistan and, Rumsfeld said, "We have a good deal of activity we need to work out with him and the people in his country."

The trip concludes with a meeting with the Indian defense minister on Nov. 5.

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